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Traders: All must pay their taxes

21 February 2011 / 21:02:55  GRReporter
4822 reads

Victoria Mindova

"It is now time all in this country to understand that taxes must be paid," said the President of National Confederation of Greek CommerceVassilis Korkidis. The statement came in conjunction with the data of the latest survey of business environment in the country, according to which one in three businessmen wants to stop paying taxes in protest against government policy and economic development.

"We do not support movements like "I do not pay"and other similar initiatives because they have no real positive contribution to the public. However, this does not mean that we are satisfied with the current situation," Korkidis told reporters. National Confederation of Greek Commerce stated that it will join the countrywide strike on February 23 this year, announced by the two largest Greek unions - the unions of employees in the private sector and of employees in the public sector. Small and medium sized shops will be closed on Wednesday this week to show their dissatisfaction with the deepening recession and lack of effective action by the government to keep the operating small and medium companies in the country alive.

According to the union, 65 000 companies ceased operation in 2010 and the country has lost a total of around three billion euros in revenues from taxes for that period. "An ordinary trader pays 16 different taxes, fees and other monthly payments, which go in the public pocket in one way or another." These payments are to cover direct and indirect taxes, municipal fees, social securities, charges for the use of professional facilities, for administrative services and so on. All of them go to the state machine, their burden has particularly increased in the last year, noted the union.

The cost analyses separates traders into three main groups according to the average annual turnover of the company. The first group includes small or sole traders who are also owners and employees in the companies and their turnover is up to 100,000 euros per year. They have one or two people on the payroll in the best case. They pay around 54,000 euros taxes, fees and costs that go to the state funds. This means that more than half of their turnover goes to cover operating costs associated with the public sector.

The same is the situation with the second group that includes ‘Ltd’ companies with two partners of 50% share in the enterprise. With an average annual turnover of 200,000 euros, their obligations to state and municipal institutions and enterprises reach 94,000 euros. As for large retailers which are registered as limited liability companies and have an average annual turnover to one million euros, the operating costs are around 300,000 euros and decreased significantly compared with their smaller counterparts.

"It seems that the government policy aims to reduce or even eliminate small and medium companies from the Greek market. We disagree with this policy and decided to punish ourselves by closing our shops and join the strike on February 23," said the vice chairman Kostis Hadzaridis with bitterness and a dose of black humour. He expressed his strong dissatisfaction with the constant strikes, protests and rallies that block the major cities in Greece and further impede the work of small traders. "It is not possible anyone to close the borders, to block the roads, to cut off the power without permission, to cripple any business and remain unpunished," said Hadzaridis, referring the numerous strikes that swept Greece in 2010.

Forecasts for the next two years are even darker as 220,000 small and medium trading companies are expected to close and new entrepreneurs will not exceed 100,000. Assuming that 120,000 retail shops close and no new traders take their place the government revenue loss will reach at least eight billion euros, calculated the traders’ union.  

One of Vassilis Korkidis’ proposals for the recovery of the business in the country is attracting major investors in the restoration of historical centres in Athens and Thessaloniki. "Real estate prices in central parts of the capital and other major cities have fallen significantly in recent years. Public-private partnership schemes could attract more investors to establish new commercial areas in the heart of the city, which will improve its appearance too," said the president of the union. However, he didn’t prompt how such an initiative would protect the small trader from the establishment of large shopping malls which are the greatest concern of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce.

Tags: EconomyMarketsTradeTaxesGreece
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