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Car trouble in Greece

December 23, 2013

Thousands more Greeks have unregistered their cars as the new year draws nearer. They said they could no longer afford to pay a motor vehicle tax with their real earnings having shrunk tangibly amid austerity.

Greek number plates piling up.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Long lines of people were forming again on Monday in front of local tax offices across Greece as many car owners in the debt-stricken eurozone nation wanted to unregister their vehicles to avoid paying a motor vehicle tax in 2014.

Greek television showed people handing in their number plates to officials, saying they could no longer afford the tax amounting to several hundred euros for smaller cars to over 1,000 euros ($1,370) for luxury vehicles.

"We've logged some 70,000 people so far who've handed in their number plates this year alone," Finance Ministry official Charis Theocharis told reporters.

When driving is no fun

The move by many Greeks to take their cars off the road reflects the impact of harsh austerity measures that have rocked the Southern European country after qualifying for an international bailout.

Greece and the Eurozone Crisis - What is the current situation?

Greece's largest trade unions said incomes had decreased by about 40 percent since 2009, making it next to impossible for many citizens to make ends meet. Car dealers maintained more than a million vehicles had been unregistered in the country since 2009.

The Greek car market continues to struggle. January-November sales dropped by 40 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier, with only 55,000 new registrations logged in the first nine months of 2013, marking the steepest decline in the European Union.

hg/ph (dpa, Reuters)