Greek Minister FinMin Christos Staikouras Meets Diaspora on Greek Economy, Double Taxation and Even Nazi War Loans

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Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, who was asked by the Diaspora to show what his legacy will be, said: “I had the chance and the privilege to be Minister of Finance for two periods, the period 2012- 2015, with mnemonic (Memorandum of Understanding) in Greece and the period from 2019 to today with the coronavirus crisis. All of these times are tough times. I always exercise my functions guided by the interests of my country and the citizens. As for what I would like to leave behind, it is a productive, strong, outgoing and internationally competitive economy.

In an upbeat presentation of the Greek economy, he shared facts, figures and thoughts with Greek Australians as a guest speaker on the Greek Australian Open Dialogue series hosted by Paul Nicolaou, Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Business Leaders Council, and Katia Gkikiza, Trade Commissioner of Greece.

After receiving praise at the Eurogroup, where Italian European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni hailed Greece’s progress in the ninth enhanced surveillanceMr Staikouras reiterated goals and plans to get the economy back on track just before heading to an Ecofin meeting to present Greece’s investments, reforms and economic plans before ending his day with a discussion at the Greek Parliament on the Hellinikon project in a binding agreement set to provide more opportunities for foreign investors.

Ms Gkikiza presented the trade figures between Greece and Australia, “noting that amid the pandemic, the total volume of trade in goods between Greece and Australia increased by 12.5% ​​in 2020” .

In the hope that the promising figures develop, Mr Staikouras presented the package of support measures implemented by the Greek market to the tune of 24 billion euros in 2020 and 11.76 billion euros in 2021 in the hope of strengthening the business environment in Greece, diversifying production, fostering productivity through investment and innovation and stimulating employment. A year after the outbreak of the health crisis, Greece’s finance chief said that society and the economy have been “severely tested” and that “no country in the world was prepared for the changes and the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 epidemic”. .

The lockdown is costing Greece around 750 million euros ($902 million) a week, he said.

READ MORE: The new wave of the diaspora can help the Greek economy to thrive

Mr Staikouras presented a “holistic pro-growth approach” by the Greek government which led to the economy contracting by just 8.02% in 2020, 2% less than initial forecasts and indicating a better recovery a once the crisis is over.

For a sustainable recovery, international cooperation would be necessary.

Attracting investors and digital nomads

Specific measures that have helped the business community were presented, such as interventions to reduce taxes and business subsidies and a recently enriched legal framework to provide incentives to support healthy businesses and investments and human capital. in the country.

Mr. Staikouras pointed to “investments which, even in the midst of the pandemic, have been reinforced with important foreign investors like Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco, Volkswagen, giving a vote of confidence in the economic policy implemented by the government “.

He said Greece was “working to address remaining vulnerabilities in order to successfully impact population movements and geopolitical turmoil and ensure a solid foundation for recovery.” He said “a series of investment-friendly tax initiatives have been taken”, including reforms to the Greek tax system and its implementation of incentives to attract pensioners, the self-employed, including nomads digital, to settle in Greece. He referred to the digital transformation of the public sector, driven by the pandemic, to help reduce red tape.

“Along with challenges, there are also opportunities,” he said.

Asked when the double taxation agreement between Greece and Australia will finally be concluded to the relief of Greek Australians with interests in Greece, Mr Staikouras said Greece “has always been keen to conclude a treaty tax” since the start of negotiations in 1983.

In October 2020, Greece joined nine other EU member states in a letter to Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. He called for the expansion of Australia’s tax treaty network in line with the 2017 EU-Australia Framework Agreement.

READ MORE: Taxed twice: Greek Australians are not only bicultural, they are also double taxed

When will Greek tourism rebound?

Greece could open tourism on May 14, but numbers will not bounce back from 2019 numbers. Staikouras said 2020 numbers were 20% of pre-COVID numbers. Projections give hope that 50% of tourism made in 2019 would return “which is a much better figure than in 2020”. Greece is expecting 7 to 9 billion euros, “but it all depends on how we proceed at European level”.

“Undoubtedly for over a year now, Greece and the whole have been going through the biggest public health crisis in memory,” Staikouras said, pointing to additional expansionary fiscal measures to deal with the negative consequences. “The Eurogroup has decided to extend the fiscal easing for a year and to continue to apply expansionary fiscal measures.”

Unpaid loan for Nazi Germany occupation

Akis Haralambopoulos, director of Maritime Promotions of Australia, raised an “ongoing issue” for Greece since World War II.

“With regard to the German archives, there is no doubt that there was a commercial transaction with several interest payments which were in fact made by Nazi Germany to Greece, but for some strange reason, that we cannot understand, the principal and interest due to Greece for which Germany is responsible has not been made,” Mr. Haralambopoulos said. the carpet.”

READ MORE: Greece sends verbal note to Berlin asking for war reparations

Mr Haralambopoulos sought to see the 75-page report created by a number of Central Bank officials. He said: “I would venture to say that if there is a problem Greece is facing, it is not the budget, but a lack of transparency on the part of the government, an area in which Greece has constantly failed.

Mr Staikouras paused before addressing what he called a “sensitive issue”, adding that it was an “important humanitarian, national, economic, social and historical issue”. He said a task force of senior officials was set up in September 2012 to search the records, a process completed in March 2013.

“In May 2014, as Deputy Minister of Finance, I set up a special committee to obtain the amount of the Greek State’s claims on the German Reparations and Occupation Loan, a necessary step for the state legal counsel is formulating as provided for the constitution a proposal to deal with the matter because of its special historical political and legal interest,” he said, adding that the work was completed on December 30, 2014 and is available in the Greek Parliament.

“The question of German reparations and the occupation loan remains open. Greece has never waived its demands. It is an issue that both countries must address with respect for historical truth and in a serious manner,” he said.

Under pressure about legal pressure on German for return of ‘trade loan’ which appears to have no repercussions for Germany.

“We have to be careful what we ask for, when we ask for something and how we do it,” he said.

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