Greece: the hour of The entrepreneur?


With tax cuts, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to points to the austerity measures. Entrepreneurs welcome it and hope for better competitiveness. With higher wages you hope to keep professionals in the country.

Red-white-and-blue flags flying over Thessaloniki, Central Egnatia street. It is the first day of 83. International trade fair in Greece’s second largest city. The focus country this year: the United States. After almost a decade of economic crisis, it is the first exhibition after the end of the international bailout program. Of a “new Era” gushed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the presence of US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who came on a flying visit. This language of the many possibilities for cooperation and praised Greece for its exemplary role as a member of NATO.

The high number of visitors from the US, the many words of praise from Brussels, Paris and Berlin: the Greek exhibition stands you can see the skeptical: “I don’t think anything changes. We have heard in the last few years and today it is even worse,” complains an employee of a Grocery store. The salaries are bad, life is expensive. You have no hope of improvement.

Real politicians are in campaign mode

With appropriately mixed feelings, it was expected Tsipras’ speech on Saturday. Traditionally, the Greek Prime Minister, at the opening night of the exhibition the business program for the coming year. For the incumbent head of government must face up to 2019 is a choice, a balancing act: “Today, three years after the difficult agreement with the donor countries, I can say for the first Time with security: We have made the right decision.” This also refers to the Referendum, he left the Greeks, 2015 on the third loan programme to the vote. More than 60 percent voted against it. Then Tsipras agreed with the Troika against the will of the voters.

Demonstrations against unemployment, violence against the recognition of “Macedonia”

Since then, he has been with the European partners, the reputation of a reliable real politician. In the case of the Greeks, but he has lost some of its popularity. And so Tsipras soars “Our country is now back on his feet”, while in the center of the city police, protesters seasons with tear gas in chess. Nationalists protested violently against the compromise in the name dispute with its Northern neighbour, Macedonia. Trade unions demonstrated against unemployment and austerity policies.

A good opportunity?

Tsipras promises, however, investments in the emerging digital economy and in traditional sectors such as tourism and agriculture. It provides higher wages. The upswing should do after the hard years, now every time noticeable. And: No more pension cuts, and the halving of the hated real estate tax ENFIA.

The first trade fair in Thessaloniki after the end of the rescue programs

Questionable whether Tsipras can score with these words, in the case of voters, as Nikos Giuris. Giuri is the owner of a Design and communications Agency in Thessaloniki, the business is going well. But the high taxes leave little left over a little of the profits. Tsipras’ offer of peace: a reduction in the corporate tax rate from the current level of 29 to 25 percent. Reduction of VAT from 24 percent to 22 percent. And also the expensive pension and insurance contributions for the self-employed should be adjusted downwards. “We’ll see what happens in the next few months,” says Giuiris hesitant. Promises known industry in Greece. Appropriate actions tend not to.

Also for Pavlos Terkenlis, the years of the crisis were tough. He is the owner of one of the most famous bakeries in the country, a family-run business with more than 450 employees. “We had to deal with the low purchasing power. In addition, the banking system had collapsed. You never knew what the next day would bring,” describes Terkenlis the Situation.

“We have invested in the hard years,” says entrepreneur Pavlos Terkenlis

In contrast to Giuris Terkenlis has for decades a solid clientele in the back. A more important advantage. But that the tradition has survived the crisis, is for Terkenlis, a: “We have invested in the hard years of money in our shops and our model is designed to save you instead.” The end of the program he sees as “a good opportunity”. The Greeks had learned during the last years a lot, also in terms of realism. Now Athens to rethink fiscal philosophy was: “Yes. We need to punish tax evaders. But we must also reward people who behave correctly.” Honesty, says Terkenlis, was finally paid for.

The new interest in the Balkans

In addition to tax gifts, but another point is still on Tsipras’ Agenda. For years, he is working on a better relationship with the Northern neighbor, in order to stimulate the economy in the Region: “Thessaloniki could be due to the strategic location of the economic centre of the Balkans”, glad the Prime Minister has attracted. The port of Piraeus is owned by the Chinese. With a final connection of the Balkans to the West would be close, much to the Annoyance of Russia, the land gap between China and Central Europe. However, growth is created automatically?

Trading alone brings no good, white Athanasios Savvakis, President of the Federation of industries of Northern Greece: “The Balkans to Northern Greece, in a natural market. Our companies are already networked now with all the countries there, also with Macedonia.” To get the benefit of it at last, beats Savvakis on tax cuts and higher wages. “We have a lot of potential. But skilled workers to wander off and not come back, because they earn abroad.”

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