ATHENS – The year 2019 can be a turning point for Greece, in which targeted hard work can potentially be translated into economic recovery and a return to prosperity, the heads of four major Greek chambers of commerce agreed in articles written for the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Sunday.
According to Constantinos Michalos, who is president of both the Union of Hellenic Chambers and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), attracting private capital and investments from abroad was the key to the recovery of Greece’s economy.
“Now is the critical period, during which the conditions must be created for a radical change of the country’s production model…We must now focus on attracting private capital and investments from abroad, support the outward orientation and competitiveness of Greek businesses, enhance the diversification and technological content of our products and services with a view to increasing the value of Greek exports,” he said.
What Greece’s business community demanded of the country’s political forces, he added, was that they rise to the occasion and deliver creative proposals and policies for permanently overcoming the crisis.
“Now is the time to set all strife aside and get to work,” he said.
The head of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Vassilis Korkidis, also head of the Attica Regional Chambers’ Council, said 2019 would be a demanding year for all and called for fewer taxes and more jobs:
“Business people, for our part, expect a national policy for more business activity with greater profits and fewer taxes for more and, of course, better-paid jobs. In 2019, more will certainly be demanded of everyone, with the provision that our efforts are reciprocated accordingly. More industriousness is needed, because nothing can proceed without hard work, but only on condition that there are jobs. Greater knowledge of the problems is needed, because nothing is simple in the modern, digital world. Greater mobilisation of the broader strata and the reaching of consensuses is needed, because nothing can be achieved without the agreement of the many.”
The president of the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen Yiannis Hatzitheodosiou, meanwhile, said 2019 could be a year of recovery and prosperity for Greece.
“There are many reasonable grounds for optimism so that we can start seeing the country’s exit from the long and dark tunnel of recession in which we have remained trapped for roughly ten years,” he said, while noting the need for projects that clearly signal the existence of a plan for Greece’s transition from crisis to recovery. These projects should protect and encourage the growth of businesses, especially small and middle-sized enterprises, he added, as these generated wealth, offered jobs and could act as the spearhead of a more competitive Greek economy built on firmer foundations.
According to Georgios Karanikas, head of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, just every change “gives birth to hope for something better” so the change in year gives rise to hope that 2019 will mark the end of a long period of stagnation and insecurity.
“The crisis decade left a negative footprint on the small and medium-sized Greek business. The SME merchants found themselves in the ‘eye of the cyclone’ and experienced unbearable financial pressures as a result of freefalling turnover, while in many cases they were forced to close their businesses.”
Among the hopes of the commerce sector in 2019, Karanikas listed the establishment of an unseizable limit for business accounts, assurance of the protection for primary residences, enhanced liquidity through micro-loans to small commercial enterprises, greater security in major urban centres and restored confidence in the market for traders and consumers.