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160 professions without preferences by March 2011

20 December 2010 / 18:12:01  GRReporter
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The final liberalization of about 160 closed professions in Greece will turn a new page in the economic life of the country. A law should come into force by March 2011 that will completely cancel access restrictions and preferences for professions like pharmacist, lawyer, notary, engineer, architect, accountant and others. Local economy liberalization is expected to bring a total of 30 billion euros in revenues in the next three or four years and it is recognized as a very important step for improving the competitiveness of the Greek economy.
 
Geographical restrictions for lawyers and notaries that exist to date for specialist per capita will be cancelled. Another benefit to the legal professions is lifting the ban on advertising professionals in this sector. Since the spring of next year Greek lawyers will have to sign contracts with their clients for services rendered according to the size of which will be payed and the deductions for social security and health insurance. There was a change made in this profession which came into force in the middle of 2010 - the PASOK government imposed a tax on lawyers' fees, which immediately affected the consumer price. The minimum fee for notary services which the state has fixed by law to date will be cancelled. There is an opinion that the government of George Papandreou steps on thin ice with the cancellation of the preferences of notaries because they have civil servant status and the changes could be declared unconstitutional.

The next in the list of changes are the pharmacies in Greece. There is a law in force now according to which a pharmacy with a pharmacist should operate per 1500 inhabitants. If the pharmacy is over 100 square meters two pharmacists are allowed to work there. The state guarantees a minimum value of pharmacists profit and according to disclosures it could reach 30% of the end price. The original plan of the government was to abolish the guaranteed profit but then the Ministry of Finance announced that it will be reduced at the beginning so as not to exceed 15% -20% of the consumer price.

Minimum level of pay is guaranteed for a number of professions such as engineers, architects, auditors regardless of the value and the degree of specialization of any representative of the relevant sector. The fees of these professionals can not fall below the statutory minimum, which guarantees the professionals’ income but not the quality of the service. The government aims with the new draft on market liberalization to release the closed professions of the restrictions that prevent competition and keep high prices for the services offered. After the law adoption all Greek ministries will issue a decree by sectors that will contain a detailed description of the changes in every profession.

The Institute for Trade and Industrial Research announced at the end of 2009 that the change is expected to bring the local economy over 13% growth in the medium term. The liberalization of previously closed professions will stimulate private investments and their size is expected to increase by at least 12.4%. Higher supply and more competitive pricing will bring and increase in consumption which will also grow by at least 15% compared to 2009. The closed professions liberalization is the millstone of the George Papandreou’s government – many discontent lawyers, engineers, architects and pharmacists are against the new draft. The adoption of the new law is mandatory apart from the obvious economic benefits in the medium and long term if Greece is to get the fourth tranche of the financial support of 110 billion euros from the European countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Tags: EconomyMarketsClosed professionsLiberalizationGreece
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