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Newsletter May 2010


New Tax Regulations
Greece has passed new tax legislation. To view highlights of the tax code, readers may view the KPMG report here.

New Measures Target Development
Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli has unveiled the government’s new development policy which will focus on subsidizing capital, tax exemptions, subsidizing interest payments and subsidizing the leasing of machinery and equipment.

The minister stressed that small- and medium-size enterprises will enjoy all subsidy programs, while larger enterprises, or large investment plans (valued more than 50 million euros) will enjoy tax breaks.

The strategic goal of the government’s new development legislation is to create a new business and productive model, to boost the country’s competitiveness, to raise employment, and to progress to a dynamic and sustainable economy based on green development.

Minister Katseli said priority will be given to investments contributing to the strengthening of the country’s competitiveness, through the transformation of the economy’s productive, know-how and technological forces, creating domestic added value, improving the balance of payments and promoting green business activity and employment.

A new development law will offer financial support of between 15 and 40 percent according to a new support zone map, and these support levels could be raised by up to 10 percent for medium-size enterprises and 20 percent for smaller enterprises.

The law will also promote transparency and a new evaluation procedure.

Minister Katseli said that a total of 13,486 investment applications have been submitted to date, with 7,100 investment plans included in the development law, covering budgets of 14 billion Euros and 5.8 billion Euros respectively. The investment plans envisage creation of 32,707 new jobs. 

April 27, 2010

One-Stop-Shop—Company Establishment in One Day
Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli presented a bill to Greece’s Cabinet which foresees the creation of a one-stop shop to establish all types of enterprises, with the aim to reduce the procedure required to just one day.

The minister said the new procedure will cut costs by over 70% and raise Greece on the global competitiveness scale from the 109th to the 90th position.

Currently, 15 steps and 38 days are required to set up a business, which will become one step in one day, with the help of the General Commerce Register.

The bill will be tabled in parliament by June and its clauses will apply three months from the day it becomes law.

April 19, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Greece Fourth Most Popular EU Destination
Greece is the fourth most popular tourist destination in the European Union for the year 2010, according to the EU Eurobarometer poll. The most popular tourist destination in the EU is Spain, followed by Italy and France.

Responding to the question "where do you intend to go for holidays in 2010," 8.3 percent said Spain, 6.1 percent Italy, 5.8 percent France and 3.9 percent Greece.

According to Eurobarometer, in 2010, 76 percent of Greeks intend to take holidays in Greece.

March 9, 2010

Athens Posts Major Hotel Occupancy Rate Increase
STR Global, an international firm that tracks the hotel industry worldwide, reports that Athens posted one of the best performances in hotel occupancy rates for January, rising more than 10 percentage points, to 42.3 percent YoY.

The European hotel industry posted mixed results in year-over-year results when reported in U.S. dollars, Euros and British pounds for January 2010, according to data compiled by STR Global.

“Europe, like the Asia/Pacific region, is one of only two world regions that reported growth in occupancy for all their respective sub regions”, said Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global. “Whilst European occupancy stands at 48.2 percent—some 12.8 percentage points behind Asia Pacific—it reflects a continuing stabilisation of market conditions, may it be on low levels”.

Tel Aviv, Israel, experienced the largest occupancy increase, rising 47.9 percent to 62.2 percent. Four other markets reported occupancy increases of more than 10 percent: Frankfurt, Germany (+14.6 percent to 58.4 percent); Moscow, Russia (+11.6 percent to 43.3 percent); Athens, Greece (+10.6 percent to 42.3 percent); and Milan, Italy (+10.4 percent to 51.9 percent).

STR is a recognised leader for lodging industry benchmarking and research.

February 23, 2010

Pipeline Agreement Signed
Greek Environment and Energy Minister,Tina Birbili, Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov and Italian Deputy Minister for Energy Stefano Saglia signed an agreement for the construction of the IGB Greek-Bulgarian natural gas pipeline.

The agreement concerns the establishment of the companies that will undertake the planning, construction and operation of the IGB natural gas pipeline, designed to interconnect the Greek city of Komotini with Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora. Minister Birbili stressed that the target is for the project, budgeted at €150 million, to be ready in two years’ time.

March 5, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Strong Olive Oil Figures
With annual production figures of around 400,000 tons, Greece is a major olive oil producer, ranking third in the world. More than 80% of production is top quality extra virgin olive oil and organic olive oil, which is a much higher percentage than in other Mediterranean olive-oil-producing countries. Systematic organic cultivation of the olive tree in Greece started some 10 years ago in Mani, Southern Peloponnese, and it is estimated that today organic cultivation is planted on 1,500 hectares while it is expected to exceed 3,500 hectares in the next few years.

April 22, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Innovation in LED
Two innovative Greeks – Michalis Alexandrou and Nikos Marmaras - have developed the first remote-controlled LED lighting system at their high-tech company Astrofos.

Light-emitting diode—or LED—technology is not merely for the small red light-emitting diode that indicates when a television is on standby.
It has many more complex uses, as the illuminated night-time facades of some well-known Athens buildings shows.

Astrofos—established in 2007—developed a cutting-edge technology that allows the buildings’ owners to customise the exterior lighting according to any need, as each individual bulb can produce a spectrum of 16 million colours.

Ecology has always been one of the duo’s priorities, both ideologically and professionally, explains Alexandrou.

The company—which also makes bulbs used for interior use, including stage lighting and nightclubs—is now finalising a prototype bulb that, apart from colour, will provide the conventional white hues used in room lighting.

April 19, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Expanding JEREMIE
Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli has met with the Chief Executive of European Investment Fund (EIF), Richard Pelly, and discussed ways to expand cooperation and promotion of new products to support small- and medium-size enterprises, thus ensuring liquidity in the Greek market, within the framework of a programme called Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE). The initiative would be a strong boost to SMEs, which are vital to national economic growth, productivity, and competitiveness.

April 19, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Greek-Austrian Trade Relations
The Austrian mass circulation newspaper "Kurier" reports that Greece is not a negligible trade partner for Austria, since last year, despite the troubled state of the Greek economy, Austrian exports to Greece amounted to 582 million Euro.

For many years Greece has been in the top positions in the preferences of Austrian tourists as a country of destination. Austria, considering its population of eight million, holds top place among foreign tourist arrivals in Greece, with roughly 600,000 Austrian tourists visiting every year.

April 23, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication