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Greek businesses hurting even before latest cuts

A priest walks past a burned branch of the Eurobank in central Athens on February 13, 2012. Businesses have been suffering in Greece for months.

Adriene Hill: Now we go to the Greek city of Larissa, where Ilias Stourlias owns a construction company. Good morning.

Ilias Stourlias: Good morning.

Hill: So tell me what's it like in Greece today?

Stourlias: The situation in Greece is dire. Everyone is waiting for the new measures, waiting to see how we're going to put up with them, because with all the tax hikes and the constant rising prices -- from petrol to energy bills, everything rising -- and the salaries dropping. And I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.

Businesses like mine have a hard time. My business income has been as least minus 70 percent over the past couple of years.

Hill: Minus 70 percent?

Stourlias: Yes. At the moment, we're just about able to cover expenses, and our savings are being depleted by all of those emergency taxes. Like, we have to pay two separate taxes if we own a home, a house -- for even small houses. And now, for the next year, they're are planning to lower the tax-free income to 5,000 euros. So even if you earn 500 euros a month, you still have to pay taxes.

Hill: Now what do you think, then, the future of your business, and your future in Greece looks like?

Stourlias: I don't know. At the moment, I feel very much uncertainty. I'm just maybe able to cover my expenses. I believe that in a year or so I might be forced to close -- I don't know. I don't employ anyone because if I had even one employee I wouldn't be able to cover his expenses.

So even just with my own back, if you like, it's very hard to keep up with -- because every month, when I turn the key to open the door to my store, I have 2,000 euros expenses for taxes, energy, gas, whatever. Unaffordable for most people.

Hill: Ilias Stourlias, thank you so much.

Stourlias: You're welcome.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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