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Greek business prospects crumble

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 02:14

Greece's construction industry has come to a virtual standstill as capital controls choke small business. As the future of the country is decided over the weekend, Kirsty Basset looks at how day to day business activities have become almost impossible.

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An empty construction site in Athens. Despite a sign saying 'work in progress', nothing is going on here. With Greek banks closed, and withdrawals limited to 60 euros a day, building works have either stopped, or are operating below capacity. Engineer Yannis Kontos owns a small construction company - he's seen business plummet by 70 per cent in the last five years. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ENGINEER YANNIS KONTOS, 52, SAYING: "Nothing is moving right now. The situation in the construction business is dire. There are many unsold buildings and apartments, there is no interest, prices in everything are plummeting, as we speak they have lost 30-40 percent of their value, taxes are unbearable, the existing state policy damages construction business. We are facing huge problems." Businesses are being choked by not being able to access capital. According to Greece's retailers association, almost 60 businesses and more than 600 jobs are being lost in Greece every day. Commerzbank's Peter Dixon. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH): Peter Dixon, Global Financial Economist, Commerzbank, SAYING: "Certainly there is a sense that the economy is running out of cash. And I think we often underestimate in our modern societies just how important liquidity is to grease the wheels of capitalism. if the banks are shut and they're not providing liquidity into the system, then clearly businesses will suffer." Greece has until Sunday to secure a deal to prevent further economic meltdown - and a potential exit from the euro zone. Negotiations have been underway on and off for months now - and that sense of uncertainty has left Greek business owners in a precarious position. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ENGINEER YANNIS KONTOS, 52, SAYING: "Every day we are thinking that we don't know where this will take us. It's a struggle to survive. Every evening I come back home and I cross myself and I say to myself 'I made it yet another day.' You have to take things one day at a time. It's a tragic situation." Even if Greece does manage to secure a deal to manage its debts, the path ahead will not be easy. Cancelled contracts and payment delays have taken their toll - and mean many businesses like this one will continue to struggle.

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Greek business prospects crumble

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 02:14