Greek restaurant workers say they feel betrayed by the government's proposed reforms to increase VAT by as much as the country's creditors' had demanded. Mana Rabiee reports.
If the brink of financial meltdown wasn't bad enough, now this: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made last-minute concessions to the country's creditors by introducing a tough reform package that includes increasing the VAT tax on restaurants and caterers to a whopping 23 percent. This, less than a week after Greeks voted an overwhelming "No" to a bailout that required further austerity. Restaurant traders in Athens feel betrayed. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RESTAURANT WAITER, EVANGELOS KOLILAS, SAYING: "Taxes, taxes, taxes. What, are we supposed to sell off everything now? With 23 percent how many tourists can we now expect?" The new legislation lawmakers looked set to vote in favor of would also increase the tax on basic food and hotels -- to 13 percent from 10. Higher prices means smaller profits, but what really scares the industry is that tourists will simply stop coming. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCHOOL TEACHER AND TOUR GUIDE FROM NORTH CAROLINA, KELLY POULIS, SAYING: "We have been coming here with tour groups for eight years now and have seen the prices come down to a place that it's a very affordable place to go, and I would hate to see them go back the other direction again." A tourism industry spokesman called the VAT increase proposal "unfair" in what should be a unified Europe -- this, when the VAT in most countries here is 8 to ten percent. With Greece in financial turmoil, last minute bookings dropped 30 percent in the last week. And business are saying the VAT tax is one Mediterranean bite too bitter to swallow.