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Tobacco growers are not afraid of the crisis

30 December 2010 / 14:12:09  GRReporter
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"We are not concerned about the future, our industry is strong." That was the message of tobacco growers in Greece after their meeting with the Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Yannis Koutsoukos. The representative of tobacco growers of Drama and Kavala Vassilis Meleneklis said tobacco growing is thriving despite the economic crisis that is suffocating Greece this year.

The excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco were increased twice in 2010. This directly affected the owners of kiosks for cigarettes as their profit margin fell significantly. The raging crisis has not affected the manufacturers most of which rely on state and EU grants.

The meeting between the Deputy Minister Yannis Koutsoukos and representatives of the tobacco industry two days before the end of 2010 was related to the allocation of EU money promised back in 2004. "We are looking for political support of production under the programs to support agriculture in the process of restructuring known as Measure 144," said Vassilis Meleneklis. Tobacco growers could be the only satisfied with the socialist government of George Papandreou that had pledged during the elections to recover some of the outstanding grants.

"We made a commitment to restore 50% of the amount lost in 2004 to support this production. We discussed how to restore the grants lost when the government of New Democracy was in power," said the Deputy Minister Koutsoukos after the meeting. The total amount of the grant is 568 million euros. PASOK predecessors did not use it and it was blocked. According to Koutskous, payment of part of the amount lost will begin immediately and the first stage will be completed by mid 2011.

Measure 144 under which the amounts of EU grants will be paid suggests that 44 000 tobacco growers will receive three thousand euros per year in the next three years from 2011 to 2013. Each installment will be paid at the beginning of the year and it will be applied to farmers for which tobacco growing is the major occupation and which do not intend to discontinue this activity in the next three years.

Vassilis Meleneklis stressed that the money recovered will be immediately invested in agriculture. Meleneklis said for GRReporter that where there is production there are jobs. And when there are jobs there is economic growth and there are no phenomena such as immigration. "The government is obliged to support producers who still withstand the pressure of the crisis and we, the tobacco growers, are among them."


Tags: EconomyMarketsTobacco growers
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