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Greek SMEs Call for Government Support Measures

Αssociated Press

A man and a woman wearing protective face mask look at wicker items outside a shop in central Athens, Thursday, April 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS -- Greek small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on Wednesday urged the state to adopt a series of necessary measures to deal with the impact on them of the pandemic, Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) said in a report on Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by GSEVEE's Institute of Research, explored the imbalance and living standards of Greek self-employed and small businessmen and the role of the social protection system in the redistribution of income and to dealing with the rise of poverty and social exclusion.

The survey said that SMEs traditionally were the main pylon of the Greek economy, while the self-employed represented a very high percentage of employed people in the country compared with other EU member-states. SMEs accounted for 1/4 of the Greek GDP, created more than 1/2 of total added value and covered around 3/4 of total employment in the business sector, the survey said, adding that the global economic crisis, which hit the country in 2008 and a deep, prolonged economic recession that afollowed combined with policies of internal depreciation imposed by the institutions, significantly affected SMEs. A drastic reduction of Greek households' purchasing power during the this period (down around 1/4) affected total demand, economic activity and the proftaibility of Greek SMEs.

The survey noted that the financial crisis excluded SMEs from accessing bank loans and led to a sharp recession. GSEVEE said that self-employed faced increasingly the risk of poverty (38.9% in 2015 from 16.7% in 2009, and remained at this high level currently).

GSEVEE recommended a package of measures necessary to support medium-sized enterprises, such as connection with EU funds, reduction of tax burdens, tax and social insurance flexibility, tax incentives to promote mergers, income-focused support measures, subsidies for the purchase and installation of new technologies, support measures to boost demand for products with domestic added value.