Economic Silver Lining for Greece?
Today, Greek authorities registered another gloomy statistic in the country’s fight against COVID. 2,255 new cases of COVID were identified while 39 individuals died due to the virus. Currently, the total number of COVID cases is estimated at 627,314 and 14,394 fatalities. The general spike in COVID cases over the course of the summer dampened many tourist visions of beautiful beaches and restful holidays.
Despite the persistence of COVID cases (here, specifically the delta variant), there is a small ray of optimism for the country. These past few days have witnessed positive forecasts for the Greek economy. The National Bank of Greece revised its projection for economic growth from 5.7% to that of 7.5%. Summer tourism bolstered the growth rate and the bank forecast a 12% growth rate for the third quarter. Although Greek tourism is still below the 2019 levels, just for the month of August, over 3 million tourists arrived in the country. Already, there are multiple announcements regarding hotel development in the country ranging from Hilton to Accor because of the favorable projections for growth in Greek tourism.
The Greek government is determining ways to use the revenue generated by the higher than anticipated growth rates. There are talks about raising the minimum wage and also fulfilling the government’s obligation to retirees and pensioners by distributing retroactive payments owed to them since 2019. Finally, new initiatives have been passed to cut the Gordian Knot of private business. Both the administrative hurdles and cash deposits required to set up a company made it unrealistic for most ambitious but economically challenged, Greeks. These administrative and financial burdens hampered entrepreneurship in Greece. Today, starting a business is quicker and cheaper due to the creation of the General Commercial Register (GEMH).
Will the positive economic forecasts and streamlining of administration unleash a private sector boom in Greece? Time will tell if this economic silver lining materializes in greater economic prosperity for Greek society.