Greeks will have to wait until 2029 so that their incomes return to the 2009 level, predicted economist Panagiotis Petrakis, during the presentation of the Economic Chamber of Greece annual report.
If everything goes well, we will have to wait until 2029 in order for GDP per capita to return to 2009 levels. If we are talking about disposable income – what is left after deduction of taxes and levies – then the Greeks will have to be more patient, since we will need to enter the 2030s, Petrakis predicted.
According to Eurostat data, Greece was at 94% of the EU average in terms of per capita GDP, expressed in Purchasing Power Units. A year later, we had lost 9 whole points, in 2011 another 10, while in 2016 – the latest data available – we were at 67% of the EU average, i.e. behind Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, and even Estonia, which was at a lower level than we were a decade ago, the economist said.
Another issue highlighted at the presentation was how quickly the economic recovery from the crisis could have an impact in people’s pockets, namely whether the prosperity of the numbers would be translated into the well-being of citizens. The question was largely unanswered, with the assumption that there is always a time lag between GDP growth and the improvement in the standard of living of citizens, as well as the question whether the downward trend in unemployment can be described as a positive sign.
The problem – as official figures show – is that even though unemployment figures dropped, this is due to a turn towards flexible forms of employment, namely, part-time and rotational work, which besides having a high degree of insecurity, is poorly paid and affects the standard of living, especially for young people.
At the same time, Greek citizens’ ability to pay is exhausted under the weight of an ever-increasing tax burden. A burden which, in the name of outrageous primary surplus targets, undermine any prospects for recovery. By 2018, only the tax measures voted and implemented from 2015 onward are estimated to amount to more than 5.5 billion euros, while the taxes that are to be paid to the State in order to reach budget targets, will exceed 48 billion euros.
Furthermore, more than one billion euros of overdue debt is added every month to the pool of outstanding tax debt, which has reached 100 billion euros, i.e. 56% of GDP. That simply means that the tax collection rate is negative. For instance, for the first two installments of income tax, there were 2,661 billion euros due. However, timely payments were 834 million euros short, i.e. the Sate collected only 68.68 percent of due taxes.