TAP taxation also an issue, outgoing minister reveals

On his way out, the now-replaced radical leftist Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, told yesterday’s handover ceremony that he has demanded a revision to taxation terms from the TAP consortium as an additional condition for the natural gas pipeline project’s development through Greece. This latest revelation by the controversial figure poses yet another threat to the national energy policy.

The project’s business terms, including taxation matters, had already been agreed on prior to the ousted minister’s appointment last January.

If followed through by the government, this disclosure by Lafazanis, who has been replaced by former Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, would only serve to damage the credibility of the Greek state in its international dealings based on agreements already signed. It remains to be seen how the newly appointed energy minister will handle the matter.

During his six-month tenure, Lafazanis, head of the Syriza government’s radical Left Platform, had repeatedly declared the government will pursue a multi-dimensional energy policy. He sought to nurture ties with Russia, an effort that included the signing of a memorandum of coooperation with Moscow for the development of the South European Pipeline – commonly refered to as “Greek Stream” – through Greece, despite EU and US concerns. Amid the process, Lafazanis also said Greece will continue to support TAP, the Western-backed pipeline to supply Azeri natural gas to Europe via Greece.

Besides yesterday’s tax-related revelation concerning the TAP project, Lafazanis had also set other demands, which had been known to the public. These include improved farmer compensation packages for land to be used in the TAP pipeline’s development, as well as route revisions, based on preferences stated by local communities. The TAP consortium has mappped out a route that is considered to be optimal, based on technical terms.