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Economy

Greeks Struggle to Pay Bills During COVID-19, Worst Off in EU

ATHENS — For the second time, Greeks had the hardest time in the European Union in paying bills, getting worse in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic that is still surging, a report finding nearly half saw their incomes fall markedly.

The annual European Payment Report published by intrum, covering 24 countries in the 27 member state bloc said 52 percent of Greeks couldn’t pay bills and that 62 percent said it happened regularly, said Kathimerini.

The country had two lockdowns – the second is still going on – that saw non-essential businesses closed for 17 weeks in 2020, workers and companies receiving partial subsidies that weren’t enough for many to pay for their needs.

Some 49 percent saw their incomes drop because of the health crisis, recording the highest ratio in Europe, while only 17 percent said their income remained the same or increased in 2020, against a European average of 38 percent..

Seventy percent who had less income cut their non-essential expenses and 31 percent said they tried to find extra work to offset the losses, difficult during a time when people were often required to stay home.

Almost 70 percent said the income loss reduced their quality of life, compared to 47 percent in the EU, and more than 16 percent said their obligations were rising faster than their ability to meet them.

Greeks who could save set the money aside for emergency expenses, for the possibility of losing their jobs or other income sources, and to help their children and/or grandchildren but 60 percent saved less than before the pandemic.

Intrum found that six in 10 Greeks have made financial security one of their key priorities since the start of the pandemic, with 50 percent trying to improve how they manage their finances.

To do that, 55 percent got information from the Internet, 49percent from school and 45 percent from their parents while 51 percent said they’re trying to better manage money because of uncertainty about what the pandemic will bring.

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