Greek stores face mass closure despite bank rescue
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Some 40,000 small businesses in Greece are likely to close in the second half of 2013 at a cost of up to 90,000 jobs despite a major bank rescue program implemented before the summer, a study published Tuesday warned.
The survey of 1,200 small businesses conducted between July 10 and 16 found that the 50 billion euro ($66.7 billion) bank recapitalization was likely to result in only a modest decline in the rate of closures, from an estimated 55,000 in the first half of the year.
Greece’s conservative-led coalition government has promised to lead the cash-strapped country out of recession and return to bond markets next year. The bank rescue program was part of the country’s second international bailout and considered central to returning Greece to financial health.
The survey also found that some 65.7 percent of small businesses said they had reduced hours or salaries for staff so far this year, while 75.4 percent described their situation as being worse than in 2012.
“The most common sentiment expressed by those involved in the survey was that the crisis is worsening with increasing speed,” said Dionysis Gravaris, head researcher at the Greek Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants, or GSEVEE, which commissioned the study.
The Greek economy can ill-afford more job losses. Though many economists think the country may emerge from recession next year, the country will still be weighed down by a sky-high unemployment rate of 27.6 percent. The government also said Monday it was finalizing plans to suspend 12,500 state employees next month — triggering threats by unions of extended September strikes.
Odyseas Drivalas, leader of the civil servants’ union, ADEDY, said Tuesday that protesters also planned to begin occupying government buildings.
“The crisis in our country is spreading with extreme, inhumane and painful consequences for the majority of the people — consequences which further worsen (the conditions of) the already impoverished ... Greek society,” Drivalas said.