Greeks wake up to open banks, higher taxes

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Greece set a se­ries of land­marks Mon­day it hopes will shore up its bat­tered econ­omy fol­low­ing months of cri­sis that threat­ened its place in the euro.

Banks re­opened af­ter more than three weeks, and the cash­strapped coun­try got a short­term loan from Euro­pean cred­i­tors to pay more than 6 bil­lion eu­ros owed to the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank. Non-pay­ment on ei­ther would have de­railed Greece’s re­cent bailout re­quest.

For most re­ces­sion-weary Greeks, Mon­day was all about the price of goods in the shops as new tax rises de­manded by cred­i­tors on ev­ery­thing from cof­fee to taxis took ef­fect. And though the banks may have opened, strict lim­its on cash with­drawals re­mained.

For an econ­omy reel­ing from the re­cent un­cer­tainty over the coun­try’s euro fu­ture, the con­tin­u­ing con­trols on cap­i­tal and the tax rises aren’t go­ing down too well.

Dim­itris Chronis, who has been run­ning a small ke­bab shop in cen­tral Athens for 20 years, says the new taxes could push his busi­ness over the edge es­pe­cially when com­bined with higher busi­ness taxes and meat prices.

“I can’t put up my prices be­cause I’ll have no cus­tomers at all,” said Chronis, who said sales have slid by around 80 per cent since bank­ing re­stric­tions were im­posed June 29. “We used to de­liver to of­fices nearby but most of them have closed. Peo­ple would or­der a lot and buy food for their col­leagues on spe­cial oc­ca­sions. That era is over.”

There are few parts of the Greek econ­omy left un­touched by the in­crease in sales taxes on many ba­sic goods from 13 per cent to 23 per cent on many ba­sic goods, from cook­ing oils to con­doms, through to pop­u­lar ser­vices, such as eat­ing out at restau­rants and fer­ries to the Greek is­lands.

The tax hikes were a key plank of last week’s bailout agree­ment be­tween Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and Euro­pean cred­i­tors.

AP PHOTO

A man leaves a branch of the Na­tional Bank of Greece in Athens Mon­day.

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