Wednesday 2 June 2010

A thank you to Minister George Papaconstantinou

I owe a debt of thanks to the staff of the Ministry of Finance, who assisted in the issue of our corporate tax residency certificate, which was finally issued on Friday, 28 May and was available on Monday, 31 May.

On Tuesday, May 25th, I wrote an email to Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou, explaining the situation. On Thursday, May 27th, I received a telephone call from the Ministry, asking for clarifications, and promising to clear up the matter. This was duly accomplished.

On Friday, May 28th, I received a telephone call from the Ministry that the tax certificate was ready, and that I could pick it up on Monday, May 31st.

This entire process started on March 17th, and was completed on May 31st. More than anything else, it has challenged my fundamental belief in Greece and its system of economic administration. I have rarely seen so much inefficiency, so many useless processes, and so much public sector hostility for what should be a routine form.

As you can see from one of the certificates (pictured above), the text is entirely simple and indeed innocuous:

I certify that Navigator Consulting Group Ltd, TIN 999496185, registered at 32, 25 March Street, Geraka 15344 Greece, is a corporation of the Hellenic Republic during the calendar year 2010, within the meaning of the double tax convention between the Hellenic Republic and the government of the Hungarian Peoples' Republic."

The Ministry, and its political leadership, are trying to implement an extremely difficult programme, and it’s clear that one of the main barriers is the creaking, inefficient structure of the public administration and its internal processes.

The new government has recently launched some new measures for e-government, pertaining to the payment of automotive circulation taxes and similar measures. I sincerely hope they will be able to stabilise the financial situation of Greece, and implement e-government (especially if they put this tax residency certificate online). Indeed, success is the only option available.

So, to Minister Papaconstantinou and the staff at the Ministry: Thank you for responding to my email, and looking into the matter. And good luck.


  1. It was about time simple procedures like this started happening in Greece. Amongst the chaos and the ucertainty of the financial crisis, it is a ray of hope that things may be turning in Greece.

  2. One of the biggest obstacles to e-government is fraud and identity theft. My sister just caught two fraudulent charges on her debt card the other day, charged in Belgium. The EU needs to implement brutal penalties for such crimes. I suggest a 10-year minimum sentence for even the most minor of infractions.