Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Greece: List of austerity measures

To receive the biggest bailout in history valued at €110 billion and unburden the nation’s economy, Greece passed the following measures at a May 6 session, during which three PASOK MPs were expelled and Dora Bakoyianni was thrown out of New Democracy for voting ‘yes’ against populist lines. The day before, three people and an unborn child were killed after hooded youth firebombed Marfin Bank.

Supplemental austerity measures in November 2010 included further VAT hikes effective January 2011, after Eurostat figures were again revised up to 15.4 percent of GDP and an audit revealed Greece had not met revenue goals.

A third set of austerity measures took effect January 1, 2011. This was followed by a fourth round called “Μεσοπρόθεσμο” (Mesoprothesmo) or the Midterm, passed June 29 and enacted July 21, 2011, on the heels of Greece’s continued failure to collect millions in back taxes and the announcement of a 2010 deficit totaling 10.5 percent of GDP.

A fifth round called “Πολυνομοσχέδιο” (Polynomoschedio), translating roughly to the Multi-Bill, passed October 21, 2011, after which then-PM George Papandreou announced a referendum, the IMF/EU/ECB froze release of the sixth bailout tranche and a coalition government took power mid-November. Outrage and a sense of injustice by the general public have made these measures a central issue during May and June elections, with politicians promising renegotiation or non-implementation, while the the EU-IMF bailout and continued inclusion in the euro zone hinge on honoring them.

Finally, ‘Memorandum 3′ was passed by Parliament on November 7 while violent protests took place outside. MPs threatened to walk out when one member proposed they also cut their salaries in a gesture of equality and empathy with citizens. The measure was struck down.

The list below refers to the second round of austerity measures from May 2010, which had been the most drastic until October 2011. In Greek, it is simply called “Μνημονίο” (Mnimonio) or the Memorandum.

*Article last updated November 8, 2012.

Author’s note: The first round of austerity measures from January 2010 were self-imposed in hopes of preventing IMF intervention.

Have they been done?

Since publishing this list in May 2010, people wonder if these measures have been carried out as promised or if Greece is dragging its feet.

Where known, I added a checkmark () for items completed. In some cases, it is unclear because parameters have been announced, revoked and revised dozens of times, and implementation does not always go forward after official publication when the EU-IMF audit team isn’t looking.

Public sector

All reductions in salaries, benefits and allowances apply to members of Parliament, government officials and civil servants.

• Cut the 13th and 14th ‘doro’ for all public sector employees earning a gross minimum salary of €3,000/month. Anyone earning below €3000 will receive €250 for Easter, €250 for summer and €500 at Christmas. If you do not understand what ‘doro’ means, read “Christmas doro” which explains that these are not bonuses, gifts or extra salaries. Foreign correspondents outside Greece nearly always get it wrong.

√  • Reduce allowances by 8-20 percent in the public sector and 3 percent in the wider public sector (utilities, etc.).

• Establish a uniform pay-scale from 2011 (not done, scheduled for June 2012)

√  (so far) • Freeze all public sector salaries until 2014

Private sector

A collective agreement signed July 15 ensures that private sector employees in Greece continue to receive their annual salaries in 14 payments, with the 13th and 14th ‘doro’ staying separate and not re-incorporated to 12 payments as originally proposed. There will be no inflationary raise for 2010 and only a 1.5-1.7 percent increase for 2011 and 2012, well below actual inflation currently running at 5.6 percent and rising.

√  • Assess one-time tax to companies showing a minimum profit of €100,000 from 2009:
– 100,000 – 300,000: 4 percent
– 300,001 – 1,000,000: 6 percent
– 1,000,001 – 5,000,000: 8 percent
– 5,000,001 + : 10 percent

√  • Raise lawful redundancy rate, making it possible for employers to reduce staff
– Up to 20 employees: No limit
– Between 20-150 employees: Up to six dismissals a month
– More than 150 employees: Up to 5 percent of staff or 30 dismissals a month

√  • Reduce severance pay, which would also be paid in bimonthly installments instead of a lump-sum

√  • Shorten the lawful termination notice period from 24 months to one to four months

√ • Young people up to age 21 can qualify for a one-year contract at 80 percent (592 euros) the minimum wage & IKA contributions, then be integrated with OAED programs upon termination. Effective July 1, 2011.

• Young people between the age of 15-18 can be hired for 70 percent the minimum wage, which is 518 euros.

√  • Redundant employees can no longer contest dismissal unless ex-employer agrees

√  • First-time employees under age 25 would be paid less than minimum wage

• Self-employed with OAEE, aged 30-65, without work for any reason are covered by insurance for two (2) years as long as they: a) Worked a minimum of 600 days, plus 120 days for every year over the age of 30 until reaching 4500 days or 15 years of work; b) are not insured by public sector insurance carrier.

√  • Open “closed professions” by July 7, 2010. Finally done on July 2, 2011, a year late, but it was done hastily and without clear parameters so people are confused, and concessions were made to certain industries.

√  • Cancel second installment of solidarity payments

• IKA contributions by employer and employee to increase 3 percent from 2011. (not done)

Pensions/Retirement

Note that an overhaul of the pension system had been discussed and outlined well before IMF intervention but was never implemented. Greece has a disproportionate aging population with 2.6 million pensioners, a work force of only 4.4 million — but shrinking by 700 workers/day in the private sector — and a total population of 11.2 million, causing the state to take loans to keep pace with monthly payments. This was exacerbated when tens of thousands took retirement before minimum age requirements were raised. It is estimated that 86 percent of the population will be financially dependent on the Greek state by 2060 (frightening), unless economic productivity doubles and birth and immigration rates increase exponentially.

On July 8, 2010, Parliament passed pension reform in principle, after the bill had been amended 50 times. A summary of the main changes are below, but you are free to view all 77 articles in Greek: “Άρθρο προς άρθρο το νέο ασφαλιστικό.”

√  • Cut the 13th and 14th ‘doro’ for all pensioners collecting a gross minimum payment of €2,500/month. Anyone earning below €2,500 will receive €200 for Easter, €200 for summer and €400 for Christmas. These ‘dora’ are not extra payments, bonuses or vacation pay, as explained in “Christmas doro.”

√  • Cut the 13th and 14th ‘doro’ and allowances for all pensioners aged under 60, except for exceptions that include minimum number of contribution years being met and/or having children under 18 or students up to age 24 in household. These ‘dora’ are not extra payments, bonuses or vacation pay, as explained in “Christmas doro.”

√  (so far) • Greek pensions frozen through 2013 (many were lowered through taxation and cuts)

√  • Calculate pension payments based on average over entire course of working life; those qualifying under the old and new system will receive pensions based on the old system through 2010 and on the new system from 2011-2014. In 2015, the minimum pension system will take effect.

√  • Equalize general retirement age for men and women in both private & public sectors, announced as 65. Not done until 2011 and conditions keep changing.

√  • Increase retirement age according to life expectancy, starting 2020, and will apply to all sectors and classifications.

√  (so far) • People may retire at 60 with reduced pensions calculated at 6 percent penalty per year; or at 65 with a full pension after 40 years of work (not 37 years). Starting 2015, no one under 60 can retire early.

• Workers classified in “heavy” industries or “dangerous professions” can retire at 60 (not 55), starting January 2011.

√  • Reinstate LAFKA, which will assess a solidarity levy of 3-9 percent on pensions more than €1400, starting August 1, 2010.
– 1401-1700: 3 percent
– 1701-2300: 5 percent
– 2301-2900: 7 percent
– 2901-3200: 8 percent
– 3201-3500: 9 percent
– More than 3500: 10 percent

√  • People working ‘dangerous’ or ‘heavy’ professions will see the retirement age rise from 55 to 58 60, starting 2011. Amended July 15, 2010.

√  • Raise retirement age for working mothers:
– In private sector: To 55 (not 50) in 2011, age 60 in 2012 and age 65 in 2013.
– In public sector: To age 53 in 2011, age 56 in 2012, age 59 in 2013, age 62 in 2014 and age 65 in 2015.
– With three children: Can retire at age 50 in 2011, age 55 in 2012 and age 60 in 2013.

√  • Revoke pension of any civil servant younger than 55, who is caught working; cut pension of any civil servant, aged 55 or older, by 70 percent if caught working and pension is more than €850/month. Starting 2011.

√  • Limit the transfer of pensions from father/mother to children, according to age and income criteria, which includes payments to 26,000 unwed/divorced daughters of bank or civil servant employees; if children are eligible to receive a two-pension transfer, only the highest will be paid from 2011.

√  • Full pensions can be transferred to widows if death occurred after five years of marriage, he/she is over 50 and income criteria are met. However, payments will be held for first three years after date of death.

• Establish guaranteed minimum pension of €360, then add qualifying income and contributions for everyone over age of 65. Starting 2015, not 2018. Increase to be determined by GDP, inflation and consumer price index from 2014. (not done yet)

√  • Pension will not exceed 65 percent of one’s monthly income while working. Previously, Greeks could retire on 96 percent of their salary based on the last and highest paid years of work.

√  • Uninsured can qualify for a minimum pension if he/she is 65, meets income criteria and lived in Greece for 15 years.

• Merge Greece’s 13 pension funds into three unified funds by 2018 for salaried workers, farmers and self-employed; public sector workers will be integrated into IKA by 2013. (not done yet)

• Reduce the number of insurance funds serving lawyers, engineers, journalists and doctors. (not done)

√  • Complete revision of Greek military armed/security forces, including raising the number of years required to qualify, removing special bonuses and benefits. See “Χακί συντάξεις στα 35 χρόνια υπηρεσίας.”

Taxes

These tax increases took effect July 1, 2010, except where noted.

√  • VAT: All VAT rates were increased 10 percent, so 5 percent is 5.5 percent on books/newspapers; 10 percent is now 11 percent for food; and 21 percent is now 23 percent on goods and services. See “VAT in Greece” to understand what  tax is assessed to which items.

√  • “Sin” tax: All tobacco, alcohol and fuel now subject to an additional 10 percent tax. This is the third increase since January 2010.

√  • Tax on luxury cars (new/used):  Calculation of 10-40 percent tax is based on factory and market value. See “Νέο χαράτσι σε καινούρια και μεταχειρισμένα Ι.Χ.” for details and examples. As of August 2011, there has been talk of revoking this measure because it didn’t raise the revenue expected and is hurting several industries.

• TV advertising: All TV advertisements are subject to a 20 percent tax, postponed to 2013 starting October 2010.

• Online ad tax of 21.5 percent to fund online journalists not covered by a fund thanks to a loophole (withdrawn)

√  New withholding tax applies from May 1, 2010 on both private and public sector salaries

√  • Special levy of 1 percent assessed to 50,000 individuals (marital status irrelevant) claiming a net income of 100,000 or more. Notices were sent June 2010. Those who didn’t pay are now facing possible jail time as of August 1, 2011.

Sources

“Greek lawmakers to debate austerity bill Tuesday” – WSJ (link removed)
Greeks hit by new wave of austerity” — Reuters
Συντάξεις: δεκάλογος ανατροπών” — Ta Nea
Χάνουν τα δώρα συνταξιούχοι κάτω των 60 ετών” — Eleftherotypia
Μαχαίρι σε μισθούς και συντάξεις” — Ta Nea
Μέτρα-σοκ ύψους 30 δισ. ευρώ” — Eleftherotypia
Καταργούνται δώρα-επιδόματα των βουλευτών” — Ta Nea
Πως θα υπολογιστεί η έκτακτη εισφορά στις επιχειρήσεις” — Eleftherotypia
Η λίστα με τα νέα μέτρα” — Ta Nea
Ειδικός φόρος 20% στις τηλεοπτικές διαφημίσεις” — Eleftherotypia
Greece’s new austerity measures to qualify for bailout” — Reuters
Τέλος και για 15.000 ανύπαντρες «κληρονόμους» συντάξεων” — Eleftherotypia
Οι νέες τιμές σε ποτά – τσιγάρα – καπνό” — Eleftherotypia
«Εδώ και τώρα» οι ανατιμήσεις σε βενζίνες, ποτά, τσιγάρα, Ι.Χ.” — Eleftherotypia
Ένα προς ενα τα άρθρα του νομοσχεδίου για τα νέα μέτρα” — Eleftherotypia
EU ministers agree to €500 billion emergency fund to save euro” — Guardian
IMF approves €30 billion as part of biggest bailout in history” — Reuters
Οι 8 πληγές του Μνημονίου” (Charts) — Eleftherotypia
Κανένας πριν από τα 60 στη σύνταξη μετά το 2015” — Ta Nea
«Ψαλίδι» 5 δισ. ευρώ ετησίως στις συντάξεις με διαφορικές εξισώσεις” — Eleftherotypia
Greek cabinet approves pension reforms” — WSJ
Όλες οι αλλαγές στο Ασφαλιστικό” (Charts: Examples of IKA/OAEE pension calculations) — Eleftherotypia
Greece’s pension reform bill” — Reuters
Tougher pension reform unveiled” — Kathimerini
Ανώτατη σύνταξη με 40 χρόνια” (Charts) — Ta Nea
Ψαλίδι στις πρόωρες και τις επικουρικές” — Ta Nea
«Ολοι στα 65 από το 2015» ζητεί η τρόικα” — Ta Nea
Αναδρομικά από 1η Μαΐου οι αλλαγές σε μισθούς και συντάξεις” — Eleftherotypia
Νέο σοκ στις συντάξεις” — Ta Nea
Λυπητερή για 50.000 «έχοντες»” — Ta Nea
Και νέο μαχαίρι σε μισθούς – συντάξεις” — Ta Nea
Τριπλό ψαλίδι στις συντάξεις” — Eleftherotypia
Ο χάρτης των ανατροπών” — Ta Nea
Περισσότερες απολύσεις – λιγότερες αποζημιώσεις” — Ta Nea
Στο «απόσπασμα» οι γυναίκες (Changes pertaining to women)” –Eleftherotypia
“Greece to ease restrictions on layoffs and severance pay” — Forbes/AP (link removed)
Unwed daughters catch time bomb in pension overhaul” — Bloomberg
Factbox: Greece prepares pension overhaul” — Reuters
Greece Sends Pension Overhaul to Parliament as Strike Looms” — Bloomberg
Τα νέα όρια συνταξιοδότησης” — Ta Nea
Σύνταξη στα 65 για όλες τις μητέρες” — Ta Nea
Greece Backs Down from Online Ad Tax” — NY Times
EC threatens to sue Greece for not opening closed professions by July 7” — eKathimerini
Συμφωνία για αυξήσεις κόντρα στο μνημόνιο” — Ta Nea
“Parliament passes laws on salary raises, audits, advertising” (Article removed) — ANA-MPA
Timeline: Key dates Greece’s debt crisis” — Reuters

http://bit.ly/GRausterity

36 Comments »

  rositta wrote @ May 2nd, 2010 at 19:11

You know, that doesn’t sound too terribly bad to me…ciao

Kat Reply:

Spoken like someone who enjoys a 13 percent tax rate in Canada and only lives in Greece two months a year. I also know you commented elsewhere that everything in Greece is too expensive and these austerity measures sounded horrid, so that contradicts your comment here.

  GP wrote @ May 3rd, 2010 at 11:29

All this, and just 100 meters outside the Parliament, the main shopping street of Athens is FLOODED with illegal status people selling illegal products, RIGHT in front of stores who are paying high rents, high taxes, and suffering the crisis….and theyre not paying not even ONE EURO in taxes, and the increased taxes on luxury goods are going to stimulate their business, in which case government will ultimately just collect less taxes overall.

The first people to pay for the crisis should be those who have no belonging in Greece. First is first, if you dont pay taxes, don’t have legal status, and absorb public benefits you will go to another country. There is a legal immigration process, use it. Its a matter of principle. They hurt local business, they don’t pay any taxes on their sales, and their sales growth is encouraged by heavier taxes. At least forbid them from the main shopping areas, otherwise how are you going to generate more taxes and support the local economy? By allowing citizens consumption to go into the pocket of illegal taxevaders?

The idea is wrong by PASOK. You want to empower local businesses so they grow, and create more jobs, generate more in taxes, and allow you to reduce the spending public sector by shifting employment. Not to cut spending, and hurt the local businesses and tax economic inputs everybody needs to thrive such as food and gasoline. The idea should be to generate economic growth for people not just make drastic cuts to show Moody’s were ok to start borrowing again.

You don’t want to tax the rich. That won’t help in the long term. It may seem unfair to the average ignorant that some people make more than them, but thats for reasons of smarts, work ethic, education, risk taking and also know theyre a lot more important to the Greek people as a whole than your average government worker. Thats because theyre business produces something, it generates taxes used for public services (where as public services don’t generate hardly anything to support istelf), employs Greek citizens, and provides Greek consumers with products/services. In a struggling economy its quite important to have this. Repelling it for short term payoffs is a huge mistake.

The rich are the reason the country has any economic output at all. You want the rich people to COME to Greece, not LEAVE Greece, you want their businesses to come in and create jobs for Greek people, you want them to invest in your markets and help Greek companies grow which means better job security and job prospects for Greek citizens..

  Aris wrote @ May 3rd, 2010 at 12:56

I’m curious to know what ‘closed professions’ are. Though these items may sound austere, in some respects it also sounds like opening up of the markets. There is just so much red tape in Greece, it is a wonder anyone can get any business done at all.

Kat Reply:

Regulated or “closed” professions are those in which people must meet strict qualifications (often eliminating any chance for non-Greeks to qualify), then follow rules set by the government on what rates they can charge and where they can do business. This includes notaries, pharmacists, surgeons and dozen of others; it’s common in the EU. In doing this, competitiveness is lost, services can be lackluster and consumers lose in every sense.

Promises to open “closed” professions have been made several times over the years to allow a more free market and encourage qualified professionals from other countries, but nothing has been done. I hope that answers your question.

  FMS wrote @ May 5th, 2010 at 23:14

All or most of these measures are things that should have been done over the last 20 years, but Greeks refused to deal with reality. Now, the result of doing all of this at once will be to cripple the private sector at the same time as trying to tax it more…

It will destroy Greece, and the primary responsibility lies with Pasok and ND governments of the past; there is also much to blame ordinary people for as well, since they said and did **** all about the mess commonly known as Ellada for the last two decades.

  Greek crisis background links | G20 Breakdown wrote @ May 6th, 2010 at 18:48

[...] List of new austerity measures A full compendium of all of the measures – it’s severe to say the [...]

  Shannon wrote @ May 15th, 2010 at 06:36

Excellent and thorough article as usual. It gave me a much better sense of what the measures mean – a bit difficult for me to understand here.

  Nick wrote @ May 23rd, 2010 at 23:01

This is still not enough IMHO…

Just two days ago they announced the free vacations the government gives away to citizens who make up to 50 thousand euros annually! Can this be right? One week paid vacation, with breakfast included, for people who can afford to pay their way?!

The country is sinking under huge debt, but otherwise it’s business as usual.

I really don’t think Greeks have understood the gravity of the situation. They couldn’t put a dent in the public debt when the economy was booming, yet they intend to make good on those debts with a negative economy growth in a recession by reducing salaries? I wouldn’t feel very confident of that, if I were a German taxpayer either.

Meanwhile, thousands of priests are considered and paid as civil servants. Tell that to the German Taxpayers.

If the EU is to survive this mess, they better get their heads out of their proverbial a$$es, and come up with a more realistic plan.

  Kees wrote @ May 25th, 2010 at 13:46

Nice article, been to Rethymnon last week and there is much confusion about this. Greeks and non Greeks alike.

We heard that in the private sector (hospitality) some companies are seriously considering the idea to let the 13th and 14th month go, all under the guise of the crisis.

This could be disastrous as the income taxes would be less (and the companies would get richer).
Going after lawyers, artists etc. will bring in some serious money the coming years.

We had our PM (in the Netherlands) stating that the average pension age was 53, not true I think.

All in all, something has to be done, but we’re missing the facts and some measures being taken look more like Pavlov reactions

Kat Reply:

Hi Kees,

There is a lot of confusion for a few reasons. First, the Greek government historically hasn’t been very transparent. Second, initial announcements are made while bills and laws are in draft phase. Third, amendments resulting from debates or proposals are published along the way. Fourth, even when a bill is announced as “final,” there are last-minute changes. Last, implementation of the law can be lax. It’s difficult to follow what was originally said, changed or thrown out, and what ends up being applied in real life may still be different.

Anyone who can’t read Greek must depend on translators, which may not help with terminology. Or they must hope the foreign press covers it in English, though they rarely do in full because space, time and interest is limited in a breaking news environment. Even Greek speakers can miss something or get confused if a day’s article slips by or rumors start circulating.

Something else that interferes with accuracy in reporting is the lack of credible statistics and transparency in how stats were compiled. Places like Eurostat depend on local authorities in Greece to provide data, and some reports will be asterisked because of omissions or processes that didn’t meet standards. Even the number of protesters participating in a strike can vary widely depending on who you talk to because it has more to do with a party’s ideology or a police spokesman’s ability/inability to estimate than hard facts. So your PM probably did the best he could.

I do my best to fill the gap, but I only do this part time and spend most of it doing translations, answering questions, fighting plagiarism and updating 200 articles and the Twitter news feed. This (unfortunately) has me publishing less new material than I’d like.

Thank you so much for your comment! Always nice to hear from readers.

  Really wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 04:22

You can’t tax your way into prosperity. If they go after lawyers won’t less people become lawyers and if they go after artist won’t they just leave for more friendly places to do business (or report less of their income)?

  George wrote @ July 9th, 2010 at 09:35

I must thank you for your website and twitter info. For me it means I can simply follow (more or less) what is going on here in Greece and what might affect me without forever asking friends or searching the net for what the latest news is and particularly on tax and pension issues etc. I have two lawyers that I use here, but they never seem to be up to date with the latest circumstances, so your website is indeed very valuable.

My question is simply; do you have any update on the pension reform bill as passed recently in Parliament? Or do you know where I may find a copy (preferably) in English?

Thanks in advance for any help on the above.

By the way, I read your blog on the difficulties of learning Greek and especially trying to speak and understand it properly. I am too ashamed to tell you how many years I have been living in Greece and still have problems expressing myself in Greek as well as understanding properly what people are saying to me. So I can sympathise with you and all the other foreigners living here who for one reason or another cannot quite grasp this rather difficult language.

You mentioned how expensive it is to take private lessons and so I thought you (and your readers if you want to blog it) might like to investigate the ‘Freeconomy Community” of Greece see http://forum.justfortheloveofit.org/viewtopic.php?f=123&t=7452&start=10 – this is community of people who exchange their skills, time, facilities and equipment amongst themselves free of charge. I note there are quite a number of teachers and others who surely can help a foreigner practise their Greek. And of course this site can offer so much more than lessons!

Kat, I thank you again for your excellent website and please keep up the good work.

With kind regards/George.

Kat Reply:

The Twitter feed is curated from dozens of sources in English and Greek, using my news judgment and by listening to what readers want, then complemented with tips, reminders and practical info. I don’t waste people’s time with banter or every story in the universe. More or less? What would make it more “more” and less “less”?

An Eleftherotypia article on all 77 articles of the pension bill is linked above under “Pensions/Retirement.” The bill can also be found at hellenicparliament.gr, under “Νέο Ασφαλιστικό Σύστημα και συναφείς διατάξεις. Ρυθμίσεις στις Εργασιακές Σχέσεις.” I realize they’re in Greek, but there isn’t a version in English.

On the subject of learning Greek, I think there is a misunderstanding. I speak/read/write Greek with proficiency, and fluency eludes me not because private lessons are expensive though it can be cost prohibitive. As explained in “Why don’t you speak Greek fluently?“, I have a job that demands I work in perfect English 14 hours a day, Greek is far less useful in the world than Spanish and French (two other languages I know) so it’s not a good investment, and I need my bosses’ written permission to attend the ministry’s free IDEKE classes, which they never give. The ministry’s classes are the only ones approved when applying for the EU-wide permit and citizenship, and this is why most non-EU residents need/want to enroll in these.

Thanks so much for stopping in and contributing your thoughts. Hope to see you again.

  George wrote @ July 9th, 2010 at 15:41

Kat, many thanks indeed for the link on pensions.

The more or less is a reflection of how I am personally able to keep up with what is going on in Greece, considering my Greek is not good enough to understand (say for example) the news on TV or read daily newspapers. So far, the month or so of following the Twitter Living in Greece and your website has helped me a lot. So I am not sure what would make more more or less, less.

Although Greece is a beautiful country and has let’s say a quaint way of life, it also has the capacity to shock, intimidate and distress people, especially foreigners who get caught out with surprise laws that no one seems to know about, or even notified of. So of course any news on such subjects is very welcome.

Over the years I have had a number of bad experiences of living here in Greece which caught me by surprise and could have been avoided if I had been more aware of what was going on with sudden changes of laws, new taxation legislation and so on. So, having your up-to-date information is a real benefit.

Sorry if I didn’t understand properly about learning the Greek language, but I would recommend interested readers look into the Free Economy website as I rather think with the way the economy is going, we could all offer assistance to others with any skills we may have, and at the same time look for help and assistance all for free! Can’t be bad. Maybe we will end up avoiding all the issues of staying the Euro/EU and go back to a barter system, so using the services of the free economy would be good practise!

Keep up your good work and thanks for your prompt response to my comments. And yes, certainly I will contribute with any comments I may have in the future.

Kind regards/George

  A Greek Tragedy | New Family Economics wrote @ September 22nd, 2010 at 06:59

[...] money is coming from other European Union countries (governments), but the “meat” of the new “austerity measures” are coming from the bankers in the form of the IMF.  The bankers have set Greece up to fail, [...]

  Maria wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 13:59

Hey Kat!

In my opinion these austerity measures are well overdue. They should have been enforced over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, we, as the younger generation, are paying for old close-minded Greeks’ mistakes.

Also, I am not a big fan of the public sector. Nothing is ever made easy, no matter what office you go to, or what long lines at IKA you wait in. I have had my bad experiences with anything public sector-related, and I believe their salaries should have been cut a while back. Sorry if I offend anyone.

I wish I was a divorced daughter of a public servant, to say the least. LOL!

Anywho, thanks for all your news feeds. I visit your website daily and tell all my friends about it. You have a huge fan base from us Greek-Americans who made the decision to move to this country! :)

Kat Reply:

Hi Maria,

I appreciate your faithful readership and the recommendations to friends, especially since I do no paid advertising and depend on word of mouth. Though I am American and have insights on how this relates to Greece, this website is for everyone since non-EU citizens all follow the same laws, and half of comments/questions come from Greeks.

Nice to see you again!

  Mary wrote @ June 15th, 2011 at 21:38

Very informative article. I now have a better understanding of the measures the Greek government is taking to try and manage the situation.

My Thia lives in Greece (she’s 78) and I worry about her and my relatives and all other Greek citizens. They have such a hard time making a living at present.

I think more measures need to be taken at the parlimentary and government official level. And this notion of “dora” (gifts) of money for public sector employees? How much money is lost in that practice?

Very sad…..

Kat Reply:

Be aware of three things:

1) All salaried employees, pensioners and eligible unemployed persons in Greece get ‘dora,’ and it’s not what you think. Read “Christmas doro” to understand the payment system in place.
2) Non-Greek residents of Greece are having a hard time also. It’s not just Greek citizens.
3) The austerity measures listed are from May 2010. As I say above, there have been other measures since and the ones currently being debated have not been passed and published into law. When that happens, I will write another article and link it.

  John wrote @ June 20th, 2011 at 17:55

Wake up people! The problem is taxes are too high and benefits are too high. An austerity program to raise taxes is only going to make things worse.

Do you really believe someone else is paying for your excessive benefits? You end up paying for your own benefits in the form of excessive tax rates. When rates are that high (23% VAT tax!) people avoid the tax as much as possible resulting in system collapse as we are now witnessing.

Greece needs to restructure entire economy to make work pay and encourage work not the opposite! Otherwise Greece will be removed from EU.

  rosemary wrote @ June 28th, 2011 at 21:30

Mainstream media coverage has given NO picture of what the austerity measures mean to families, students, workers, and would-be workers. It is as though the only important characters in the drama are the EU, the economy, the lawmakers, and the undifferentiated mass of demonstrators. Maybe that’s what the scene looks like to people trying to hang onto power; I want a more complete picture.
Thank you.

Kat Reply:

It’s fairly easy to see how the average person in Greece is affected through stats, such as: Salaries slashed 20 percent, taxes raised three times in less than a year, 600 people lose their jobs every day, 99 percent of businessmen in Greece ready to emigrate, young people leaving in droves, 800,000 people are unemployed but only 200,000 collect benefits, pension funds are borrowing millions, 176,000 businesses will shut down by end of 2011 at current rate. Electricity, gas and food consumption are all down.

There have been personal stories embedded in articles published by Reuters, The Guardian, The Independent, NY Times and AP. Here’s two of many: “Selling gold teeth and wedding jewelry to make ends meet in Greece” and “Greek olive grower squeezed dry by crisis,” where he talks about it being unaffordable to visit his grandchildren because road tolls are so high. If you follow my Twitter feed, you can find many of them archived. So I disagree with you on the subject of “no picture.”

If you want a dedicated look into the life of someone affected by austerity, I’m afraid this will be more difficult for a few reasons:
a) Most people are hesitant to share private hardships with strangers;
b) Many put on a brave face because of pride or reasons of privacy, even when something is wrong;
c) You would need to follow them for an extended period to get a true look, not just interview them for an hour;
d) Most people don’t want their hardships distributed around the world and archived for eternity.

If you are acquainted or friends with someone, it’s a bit easier to talk about it because they’re usually in the same boat. I will not share the stories of others without permission because it violates trust, and I have no intention of sharing my own in public.

  Valerie wrote @ June 29th, 2011 at 08:49

Hi Kat,

Thanks again for your helpful site. With friends and family coming for summer holidays we want to be able to negotiate our way around the strikes.

I agree with what you were saying in your comments about people being hesitant about sharing their personal financial difficulties-and this in a country where new acquaintances don’t think twice about asking you what salary you earn!

As being aware of the big picture, just take a stroll down some of the leafier suburbs commercial districts. Look at how many shops have been closed, have ‘for rent’ signs on them or have massive 50% sales signs on them. These are the small businesses that are the lifeblood of the Greek economy and provided many many jobs. The graffiti ‘artists’ finish the job on their windows and now the street looks neglected and seedy.

Hopefully the tourists will keep coming but the money within the system is shrinking fast, and the easy credit with which we have all come to use freely is being squeezed. The country does need a vision, something that will help to pull us together and WORK together. Gulp! Sounds like Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 30′s!

Kat Reply:

Hi Val,

True, people have no hesitation to ask your salary and how much you pay for rent. But they say you’re rude or the information is too personal when you ask them the same thing.

In any case, everything must be taken into context. Example 1: I once had neighbors who constantly complained about how hard things are and how they’ve had to cut back. But if you look a bit deeper, they’re both employed in the public sector, his parents gave them a mortgage-free property, they drive a BMW and go for three vacations a year. Honestly, I couldn’t sympathize with their plight. Example 2: Many ‘Indignant’ protesters in Syntagma say they’re poor but have iPhones, the latest Gucci wallet and plenty of money to spend in corner stores.

I suspect the people having the most difficult time are those we cannot see, those who do not wish to talk about it except with people they know and trust. But yes, there are visible signs of crisis in every neighborhood as you rightly said.

Nice to see you again.

  ag wrote @ June 29th, 2011 at 09:55

Most counties around the north sea never joined the Euro. Why not found the Hanse again with Netherlands, UK , Norway GER & Scandinavia etc..

We lose 30% on the EURO exit, but we know what we got:
Real Friends & future of Northern Europe.
Probably Profit withe a strong new currency.

Take your loss. Europe was never one. No united Europe can last thousand years and that is it’s strength. Greece is for holidays and you should pay there with holiday fake drachma.

It is reasonable to ask for a moment when to say STOP. At this moment no one know. That is alone reason enough to leave the Euro. We could try again in 2100 ?

  Paul wrote @ June 29th, 2011 at 16:20

Dear Kat,

A fantastic site and well done on keeping up with the strikes.

One point; why on ‘the translator’ does it have the Stars and Stripes’ for English? You guys speak a completely different language ;-)

Kind regards,
Paul D-R

Kat Reply:

“You guys”? Right. The translator is a plug-in written by an Italian programmer, and I do not have the option to change the icon or turn it off, which I’d prefer since the website is already in English.

  Michael from Dublin wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 02:16

Excellent article and very thoughtful answers to posts. I now understand how traumatic it has been for Greek public servants.. In Ireland the only ‘dora’ we get is an additional days leave at Christmas and Easter (total = 2). We have also suffered pay and pension cuts but as always it is the people on the low end who are hurting most.

Kat Reply:

Again, I encourage you to read what ‘dora’ are in Greece. They are not bonuses, they are not extra payments or gifts, and it is not vacation pay. See “Christmas doro.”

Cuts have not been as traumatic for civil servants as they have for private sector workers, who comprise 80 percent of the workforce and receive far fewer benefits, lower pensions and significantly lower salaries.

  Maz wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 16:40

Hi ! Thanks for your articole, it has been very useful!
could you please confirm me that all the austerity measures have already been converted into law?
what about the measures approved in 2011? where can I find them..

I am struggling as all the ufficial documents are in greek language…

thanks a lot for your help

Maz

Follow-up: yeah, it’s clear enough I’d say, I don’t need any more assistance. thanks for this article again

Kat Reply:

They were all published into law as indicated in the article above, and the ones marked with a green check were completed as explained under “Have they been done?” I never did an article for 2011 measures because they kept changing — one section up to 50 times — and anyway most of them were never implemented, which is one reason the EU/ECB/IMF are angry and Greece has lost credibility.

I run this website and research, translate and write all its articles in my unpaid spare time, as I’ve professional commitments as a journalist. Greek is my fourth language, online translators are available (translate.google.com), and I do not offer more assistance for free. All best.

  sabbas wrote @ February 13th, 2012 at 12:10

I miss the measures to reduce the exceptional high number of civil servants (~700.000 of the ~4.4million workforce).
By now those numbers should have been reduced by 30.000 (reduction ~4%) according to the agreed package.
That would help to reduce the budget deficit that is not reduced in 2011 (the final figure will probably be higher than the 2010 deficit!)…

Further almost nothing realized of the agreed privatisations. That would generate many billions of cash, but also would help for the deficit as the government no longer has to pay for the losses of those state owned companies.

Further very little deregulation. Important as that helps to make the Greece economy competitive…

With so little implemented, de budget deficit will not shrink and indeed it does not!

  Anna wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 06:07

Wake up people. Many of our government positions have the same pensions as Greece and we are also headed for the same lopsided population shifts. Our pension system was devised when we numbered 10 young people to one older person but we are closed to getting to 1 to 1 and no 20 year old can support themselves and a new family as well as someone on a pension which is why we’re currently borrowing so much to keep our entitlement programs alive. And that along with our war debt will put us in the same position dealing with our own austerity measures if we don’t deal with our deficit now. But our system is just as broken as their’s is we just have a stronger currency.

Can you tell me who’s thriving or doing reasonably well under the new austerity measures? Are the rich getting richer? Does Greece have its own stock market and if so, how has it been affected? Has crime gone up dramatically as the poor get more desperate or are people in general taking it pretty well? I’ve seen that they are having protests but are those mainly in the cities and mainly aimed at the bigger government entities? I’ve just been wondering how measures like these would affect the U.S. if they occurred.

Kat Reply:

There’s no comparison between the Greek and U.S. economies.

You can do a simple Google search and/or look through the @livingingreece Twitter account, which is a news broadcasting tool and archive, to answer most of your questions with the data available. Beyond that, it’s impossible for anyone not living and working in Greece to understand what’s happening.

  A Greek Tragedy | DayOnBay wrote @ July 8th, 2012 at 19:16

[...] high, with a top income tax of 45% and a VAT of 21%. Since 2009, the Greek government has raised taxes dramatically; in addition to increasing VAT rates from 21% to 23%, it has also increased income taxes on [...]

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