Hard­ship wors­ens, 20% can­not af­ford ba­sics

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

More than 20% of the na­tion could not af­ford ba­sic com­forts last year, nearly dou­ble the num­ber in 2010 when the coun­try’s debt cri­sis ex­ploded, data showed on Mon­day.

In its study of liv­ing stan­dards for 2013, statis­tics agency ELSTAT said it was not just poor peo­ple who could no longer af­ford ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties, such as be­ing able to keep their homes warm or pay ba­sic ex­penses.

How­ever, the econ­omy seems to be bot­tom­ing out, with Athens and its in­ter­na­tional lenders pro­ject­ing it will pull out of re­ces­sion and grow 0.6% this year.

The coun­try’s six-year re­ces­sion, ex­ac­er­bated by fis­cal aus­ter­ity de­manded by its in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors, has wiped out about a quar­ter of the econ­omy and sent un­em­ploy­ment up to nearly 28%, trig­ger­ing mass protests.

The study showed that 20.3% of Greeks could not af­ford at least four out of nine con­di­tions that de­fine eco­nomic hard­ship, in­clud­ing a one-week va­ca­tion or eat­ing chicken or meat ev­ery other day. The drop was more pro­nounced among those aged un­der 64.

The survey added that nearly a third could not af­ford to keep their homes warm, a fre­quent com­plaint after the gov­ern­ment raised taxes on heat­ing oil to boost state cof­fers amid the cri­sis.

“The lack of ba­sic goods such as a wash­ing ma­chine, colour TV, a car and dif­fi­culty in meet­ing loan pay­ments does not only af­fect the poor pop­u­la­tion but also a sec­tion of those who are not poor,” ELSTAT said.

More than a third of the pop­u­la­tion with con­sumer debt had a hard time ser­vic­ing their loans, the study showed, high­light­ing why Greek banks con­tinue to strug­gle with bad loans.

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