OPINION

Old system dies, but few will miss it

Greece’s housing reconstruction has been largely based on what is better known here as antiparochi, a system whereby people concede old properties in exchange for newly built apartments. That has long served as a smart way to meet people’s short-term accommodation needs but it has proved disastrous for the country’s urban environment. The practice has been the driving force behind the Greek economy for many years, but it has also been largely responsible for turning Athens into a cement jungle. Also, the system created a large middle class and benefited society in the short run. But at the same time, it proved devastating for people’s everyday lives. That said, few should be disappointed to see the system’s first signs of decline, mainly due to changes in the country’s tax system. The decision to impose value-added tax (VAT) on new buildings effectively annuls the tax-free incentive of the previous system. This marks the end of an era. The old system served its purpose up to a point but caused a great deal of destruction in the process. Few will miss it.