A Whitewash on a Greek Crisis – By Alan

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Nothing here from The Economist, Daily Mail, BBC, Telegraph or even Guardian. No google either.

We were told by taxi drivers and business men and a retired public servant that there is no crisis on the islands…it’s on the mainland and mainly in the two big cities…Athens and Thessaloniki (in the north). We were also told that rents in Athens have halved and jobs are not easy to get. If that has happened presumably pay has dropped significantly. Certainly saw beggars on the street, shops closed. Apparently it’s easy to drive in Athens now because cars are too expensive to run…it seemed full of traffic jams to us!
But the islands we visited Crete, Santorini and Naxos and tourist towns like Nafplio all seem to be thriving with all the houses newly painted white. Again we are tourists so didn’t really see the streets behind. Prices seemed full with no real bargains despite the fact we are here right at end of the season. Hotel, Airbnb proprietors said business had been good but restaurants said otherwise. Someone mentioned 26 million foreign visitors..can that be right??, but Greek tourists well down. It was suggested that it was due to the timing of the referendum but I’m not sure…it seemed to me to be over pretty quickly. That presumably tells us that the spending power of Greek citizens (determined to get that in somewhere) has collapsed. The husband of a court official told us that home owners can apply for a moratorium (that sounds Greek too or is it Latin?) on their mortgage if they have run out of money…seems a good idea to make the Banks pay rather make families homeless.

Other bits of tittle tattle. Civil Servants and employees of business pay tax..there is and has been a “Paye” system. (That bit I did read before leaving home but was confirmed by the public servant..recently retired). It’s the self employed who didn’t.
One story of a Consultant (Medical) who only saw patients if payments were made under the table and had started to build 4 huge houses to hide his surplus cash…a common enough process even in Northern Europe. But he’s run out of cash.
It seems if you pay for services you automatically get a receipt. If not you get a full refund of the payment. We certainly always received a receipt. It was confirmed that state pensions have been cut and retirement age increased.
Someone complained to us about taxis. It was late at night and I realised eventually he was saying taxes. Property tax has now eventually been introduced. Retirement ages have been put back and pensions cut.
There are huge numbers of incomplete properties….but not massive developments as per Spain. A Naxos resident told us that people didn’t like to borrow and so saved before spending to complete their property. Also seems to me the Government should introduce cigarette tax ASAP as most males seem to smoke..mind you they would soon be voted out.

So if only foreign tourists bring in money and Greeks haven’t got any, as most commentators say the debt cannot be paid off. The moment of truth has this year been put off again.
Tourism and olive oil will not save day.

So far as the refugee crisis goes we have not met anyone who has mentioned it!

2 thoughts on “A Whitewash on a Greek Crisis – By Alan

  1. That was really interesting – like a report from our Greek correspondent. It just goes to show – and I realise this is almost sacrilegious – that maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we see or hear in the media ……

    • Hi Mike…too true. But I get the impression it’s really grim on the mainland..particularly the cities..and of course the refugees are not coming to the islands we have visited. Best
      Alan

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