Local businesspeople have expressed satisfaction with the new support measures the government announced on Thursday, but stress that they are not enough and what matters most now is the reopening of the market as soon as possible.
“The expansion and the strengthening of the measures will doubtlessly offer companies and workers some breathing space,” said Konstantinos Michalos, head of the Central Union of Chambers. “However, we will not stop arguing in favor of coordinated action for a haircut on debts created during the pandemic, and we also call on the government to review its policy regarding when and how the market will function again for normality to be restored,” he added.
“Any new support or improvement to the existing support framework of support for suffering enterprises can only be welcome. However, no measure can replace the turnover lost for thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises that are literally on the brink of collapse,” says Giorgos Karanikas, the head of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE).
“Every day that passes with the market closed, the enterprises and the economy bleed, the arrears from the pandemic grow and the hole in public finances expands,” Karanikas stated.
Athens Professional Chamber President Yiannis Hatzitheodosiou stressed that the market has lost 7 billion euros due to the lockdown on food service and retail commerce over Christmas and the winter sales, adding that the measures are positive but do not suffice.
“The sole realistic solution ahead of the impasse created is a debt haircut combined with a 120-tranche settlement for the payment of the rest of dues. I believe it is time for the government to consider it seriously,” said Hatzitheodosiou. “The longer we delay [the reopening] the deeper we entrepreneurs and enterprises are sinking, and with us so does the economy, increasing fears that after the pandemic we may have to make an upward revision of our estimate for 200,000 permanent closures,” he warns.