Building slump worsens

Construction activity dipped by 30 percent on an annual basis in May, in a downtrend likely to continue also in June, according to industry officials. The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE),which has more than 100,000 members – architects and engineers – said the number of building permits issued in May fell 30 percent year-on-year after a 19-percent dip in April. In March, building permits recorded a modest bounce, rising 0.16 percent, according to TEE. «For June, TEE data shows the same negative trend is continuing in comparison with 2008, with enormous consequences for employment of engineers and other related professions and their income, which is being continually reduced,» it said in a statement. Investment activity in the construction sector, which accounts for approximately 7 percent of the country’s annual economic output, has slumped as the economy comes to a standstill. In April, the Economy and Finance Ministry announced measures aimed at boosting investment and protecting jobs in the sector, including subsidizing mortgages and increasing tax reliefs. TEE described the measures as having a doubtful and limited impact, pointing out that they have yet to be passed through Parliament. Turning to recent figures from the National Statistics Service (NSS), showing that construction activity rose 19 percent in March, TEE said «this created a euphoric climate which has nothing to do with reality. «The NSS data relates to March, the only month that shows growth relative to last year,» TEE said.