Greece was one of the first countries to impose strict lockdown procedures during the first wave of coronavirus back in March that swept through the old continent.
Currently in the second wave of covid-19 cases and a national wide lockdown in place until after the 7th of January, Greece has been thinking ahead to post-pandemic reforms that will provide a necessary boost to the economy. The country has just climbed out of a 10-year financial crisis, and three bailout programs, harsh austerity measures, and a crippled public healthcare system and by all means was not expected to bounce back as fast or efficiently. However, the government’s overall quick and decisive measures with closing down schools, festivals and restaurants kept the worst of the virus at bay and allowed the country some breathing room during the summer period.
Even so, the Greek economy is estimated to shrink by almost 10 per cent by the end of the year, making reform plans, migration attraction and foreign investment opportunities all the more crucial.
Greece is rebranding
Greece is rebranding and it is focusing heavily on its strengths to attract both foreign investors and some of the thousands of Greeks that left during the economic crisis.
Specifically, Greece is looking to EU funding to develop its renewable and clean energy sector, in locations around the country; a necessary action for a land with ample sun and wind on offer.
High taxation has been a major issue previously both for individuals as well as investors and corporations that had potentially looked to Greece. A tax incentive scheme proposed in early 2020 just before the pandemic, aiming to “reverse Greek brain drain” is now taking shape as investors are signalling a willingness to proceed, especially after Brexit is finalized on December 31st 2020.
More than 500,000 people left Greece due to the financial crisis but structural issues in the economic framework of the country (salaries, benefits, absurd income taxes, low social services and bureaucracy) are the core issues that will need to be addressed as we move forward.
As remote working becomes the norm, Greece is called to reimagine digital access to services and online remote workers. Whether they are Greeks who simply want to return home or travellers that can enjoy a good quality of life, excellent weather and affordable living conditions from one of the best holiday destinations in the world.
The plan will include a 50 per cent income tax reduction for the first 7 years, for all Greeks and remote workers that chose to reside in Greece.
Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragogiannis pointed to 36 important reform initiatives implemented over the last 18 months that will complement business opportunities for investors. In addition to tax cuts, Greece is focusing on the transition of the country into the digital era, sustainability, and eliminating stringent bureaucratic processes that create delays.
Companies looking to Greece in 2021
But it is not only those that left but those that stayed behind as well that will hopefully benefit from these changes. Greeks that chose to stay behind had to face unemployment rates of 17 per cent and navigate a system that under no circumstances had managed to enter the digital era at the pace that was needed. This is one of the main issues noted by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who called for “marrying the skills” of those that are coming and those are already here.
Global investor and real estate developer Everty, is one of the many companies looking to Greece after Covid-19, with plans to invest up to 100 million euros over the next four years in hospitality real estate projects across the country.
Despite the Covid-19 delays, Greece has also announced 8 strategic investments, valued at more 1 billion euros, have been given the green light to proceed, leading to the creation of more than 3,300 jobs.
The projects include the marina Vlyhos on the island of Lefkada, two 5-star hotel complexes in Ios, as well as resorts and hotel complexes in Crete, Mykonos and the Peloponnese.
The Hellinikon project, in the area where the former Athens International Airport was located, is another megaproject that has drawn the internet of other foreign investors in developments in the area of Athens and Greece in general. The metropolitan complex, led by Lamda Development, is estimated at 8 billion euros and will bring more than 40,000 permanent job positions after completion in 2025 and 75,000 jobs while under construction. This will be the first skyscraper building in Greece with a casino and include luxury apartments, sporting facilities, a yachting marina.
The Greek government has also successfully brought home investment projects with some of the biggest multinational companies like Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco, and Volkswagen.
After years of bad press and missed opportunities, Greece is showing a true commitment to turning things around and making much-needed changes.