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Branch organizations dissatisfied with the government

30 August 2011 / 19:08:25  GRReporter
3520 reads

Victoria Mindova

Most representatives of public organizations proved to be dissatisfied with the government. Their leaders met the Prime Minister George Papandreou days before the start of the traditional International Fair in Thessaloniki. Tax policy, financial stability and the changes in the public administration were the main issues discussed during the meeting between the Prime Minister, his cabinet ministers and representatives of trade unions and professional organizations in the country.

After the meeting, the ministers from the Socialist government slipped out one by one from the side door of Papandreou's office without making a statement to the media. Unlike their interlocutors, the "guests" of the Prime Minister from the trade unions and professional organizations expressed their impressions of the meeting, which could be summarized in the saying "Dogs bark but the caravan goes on."

"The picture of the Greek economy is gloomy. The crisis is deepening, the opportunities to change the course and for reforms in the economic and financial sector are diminishing. In general, all believe that it is impossible to go on like this," said the Chairman of the Central Union of Greek Chambers George Kasimatis. Unlike previous years, this time Kasimatis was particularly strict to the activity of the cabinet and insisted that the time to spare is over. "To change the current course, the government, the ministers and the economic advisors should understand that the pace of one step forward and two steps backwards should not continue." He even did not deny the possibility of convening early elections if Papandreou and company do not change their way of governing.

Kasimatis determined the changes in the banking sector as positive and expressed his hopes similar developments to follow. However, he stressed that the banking system should remain mainly Greek and that allowing foreign investors to hold large stakes should be avoided.

Dimitris Asimakopoulos, president of the Union of Craftsmen and Tradesmen in Greece asked the Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos to reduce VAT. The answer was a firm "No". Asimakopoulos made it clear that the country could have avoided the suspension of payments to foreign creditors with the arrangement of July 21, 2011, but the real economy in Greece is dying. According to him, if investment in small and larger volumes in the country is not stimulated, the collapse will not be prevented. He insisted that it is imperative to reduce the tax burden on companies and consumers starting by reducing the VAT. "This issue is closed for the government and it does not intend to make changes in this field," said laconically Asimakopoulos referring to the Prime Minister’s response to the requests.

Much more offensive was the President of the Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Vassilis Korkidis who determined the government policy as an attack on the small and medium sized enterprises. "We know that death and taxes are inevitable, but taxes do not have to be the cause of the financial death of the small and medium sized companies and the middle class in Greece." As for the early elections, Korkidis said that currently the market does not need new government but peace and a stable and fair legal framework to be able to find the right rhythm again. Traders do not approve the new tax increases either, but their requests have also found the blocked ears of the government. The Prime Minister replied that the new higher VAT on restaurant services and tourism would bring about € 650 million in the treasury, making it impossible to withdraw the measure.

Tourism turns out to be the only swallow of hope this year, which despite all hardships, protests and difficulties brought about 12% increase in tourist flow in the country. The President of the Association of Tourism Enterprises Andreas Andreadis said that a package of regulatory measures and incentives that will help enhance foreign tourism in the country has been discussed during the meeting with the cabinet. The purpose of government and business is tourism to contribute 21% -22% to the GDP on an annual basis instead of the current 16% -18% of GDP and to provide one in every four jobs. As for the changes in the financial sector, Andreadis stressed they are necessary to allow the development of long-term projects that will be crucial to the economic growth of the country.


Tags: EconomyMarketsProfessional organizationsPapandreouInternational Fair in ThessalonikiTaxesGreeceVAT
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