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Greeks' tax abilities 'exhausted'

Greece has "exhausted" its ability to pay more taxes to cover budget gaps, its deputy prime minister has declared, adding that he himself cannot pay a new emergency tax without selling property.

Theodoros Pangalos spoke as the debt-shackled nation faced fresh strikes and braced for another inspection by international creditors, starting on Thursday, to decide whether to continue vital bailout loan payouts.

On Tuesday, Parliament approved a new emergency property tax to be added to electricity bills later this year, as Greece remains under strong international pressure to abide by its painful deficit-cutting targets. Greece will go bankrupt by mid-October if it does not get an expected 8 billion euros (£7 billion) loan.

"I believe that the tax limits of Greek society have been exhausted. I would say they have been exhausted for some time," Mr Pangalos told private Mega television.

Mr Pangalos, a 73-year-old Sorbonne-trained economist, is listed as owner or part-owner of eight properties and farmland in greater Athens and several other parts of Greece.

"The property I own was purely obtained through inheritance. Personally, I have never bought anything... I will be obliged to sell some of these properties. There is nothing else I can do," he said.

Greeks have been outraged by the announcement of new austerity measures, including pension cuts and the new property tax, coming after more than a year of spending cuts and tax hikes.

In Athens, another 24-hour public transport strike left commuters struggling to reach work, as unions lashed out against the austerity measures that the Socialist government hopes will get it access to crucial loans.

The heads of Greece's international debt inspectors are due back in Athens on Thursday to complete a review of the government's cost-cutting programme. International creditors have urged Greece's Socialist government to make deeper cuts in public payroll costs instead of repeatedly raising taxes.

More than 1,000 protesters from a Communist-backed labour union have demonstrated outside the Finance Ministry, urging Greeks not to pay emergency property tax bills being sent to households this autumn. Protesters burned copies of the tax notices during the peaceful rally.

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