Ways to encourage and support entrepreneurship on the Greek islands topped the agenda of talks between Deputy Shipping Minister Ioannis Pappas and the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) this week.
ESEE representatives briefed Pappas on the challenges faced by Greek island businesses and the vast potential. The meeting also focused on ways the ministry and ESEE could work together in this direction, which includes improving the so-called “transport equivalent” program which offers special discounts for the transportation of goods and people for eligible island residents and businesses.
ESEE President Georgios Karanikas stressed the importance of formulating a comprehensive policy which focuses on the overall upgrade of the Greek tourist product as the main source of wealth for island economies and provides solutions to specific local problems while utilizing the production potential of each island individually.
Karanikas called for a special development plan for businesses on smaller Greek islands and for private sector investment incentives aimed at strengthening island entrepreneurship.
Among others ESEE is calling for:
– the designation as “tourism businesses” enterprises which achieve more than 50 percent of their turnover in the June-September period
– reinstating a 30 percent reduced VAT rate on the islands, as foreseen by a relevant EU Directive
– improving the current “transport equivalent” aimed at reducing the cost of transport for passengers and goods
– introducing a special state aid regime not covered by the ‘de minimis’ clause.
“Our priorities are to create a sense of security for islanders and Greek entrepreneurs so that they will be able and willing to invest in their island under suitable conditions and to know that the state is by their side supporting small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurship,” said Deputy Shipping Minister Ioannis Pappas.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, the government had said it was planning on extending the transport equivalent program to air travel to facilitate the transportation of goods and people to/from 49 remote Greek islands.
It should be noted that island residents or businesses can apply for the second phase of subsidies under the “Metaforiko Isodynamo” program through to August 31, 2023 here.