September 25, 2018 Print

Greeks love their souvlaki, but they’re paying more than they know. The hidden ingredient? Value added taxes, or VAT.

The Greek Liberties Monitor’s (GLM) Souvlaki project is using social media, videos, memes, and real businesses to show the burdens of Greek’s tax system. The name for the project comes from the Greek dish souvlaki, which is just one of the products that has an artificially high price due to value added taxes (VAT). These VATs make daily purchases more expensive for citizens already struggling under one of the heaviest tax burdens in the world.

This campaign plans on hitting politics at every angle through social media, advertising at food vendors, door-to-door campaigns, and both positive and negative press for politicians depending on their endorsements. Another major component of the project will be the “Free Souvlaki” day. GLM plans to offer souvlaki at participating vendors for a reduced price to show how much cheaper it would be without the VAT.

“GLM, via the souvlaki project aims to create grass root support for lowering the VAT in food, which is something which has never been attempted before,” said Michael Iakovidis, co-founder and marketing director of GLM. “Rather than focusing on white papers, there will be a mix of media/social media targeted at gaining support, and a door to door visit of restaurants and food related businesses to register their support of the campaign. The campaign already has more than 3,000 signatures and 50 endorsements by business owners.”

Video from the Souvlaki Project

“Greece is the world champion of tax hikes,” said Iakovidis. “These taxes have led to droves of business leaving Greece to neighboring countries, an unemployment of approximately 20 percent for years now, and no end in sight for the Greek Crisis. In an OECD report which was just published, Greece was declared [tax hike] champion for the period 2007-2016. ”

Image from the Souvlaki Project

It is surprising that taxes do not dominate public discourse in a country where the generated income tax can reach up to 80 percent and is almost always above 50 percent. That is why GLM is focusing on social media. GLM’s goal is to lower the VAT on food from 24 to 13 percent, and it believes increasing public awareness is the first step.

Check out the official website for the Souvlaki Project here.

Atlas Network has provided a grant in support of Greek Liberties Monitor’s Souvlaki project.