Greek farmers have taken to the streets of Athens to protest a controversial property tax demanded by the country’s international creditors, Press TV reports.
Several hundred farmers marched through the capital on Friday towards the parliament building in Syntagma Square, carrying banners reading “Not one euro for the fields.”
The demonstrators threw oranges at riot police who hindered them from reaching the official building. Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The farmers protested a new proposed property law, which would fix a tax on agricultural plots larger than 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet). Agricultural workers have previously only been taxed on their income.
Furthermore, the new legislation would lift long-standing restrictions that have so far prevented people’s homes, farming land, and farmhouses from being auctioned off by private banks against outstanding loans.
“We only have one demand: Not to tax our farms, because this is what we need to operate our business, the same way factories have machinery,” said protest organizer Panagiotis Peveretos.
Experts fear that the new tax would hurt the already distressed real estate market, which has seen a drop of more than 30 percent in recent years.
There are also fears that the new legislation would increase the number of confiscations of farming plots belonging to loan-holding farmers.
The protest came as lawmakers debated the proposed law, which is demanded by Greece’s troika of international lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The new tax is due to be voted upon Saturday.
Greece has been dependent on bailout funds from international “rescue loans” since May 2010 when it was first granted a 110-billion-euro (USD 145 billion) package and was followed by another 130-billion-euro ($170 billion) package in February 2012.
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left tens of thousands of people without jobs.
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