Athens Digest 05.11.2018

• Greece not on Eurogroup’s agenda today but pension deliberations continue

• Alexander Kritikos (DIW): Better cut taxes than scrap pension cuts

• Ruling SYRIZA submits constitutional review proposals

• Anarchists barge into Argentine embassy in Athens

• Anarchists target supermarket outlet for opening on Sunday

# Even though Greece is not on the agenda of today’s Eurogroup, Athens and the institutions continue talks on the fiscal space that will allow the non-implementation of tax cuts in January. Reportedly, scrapping pension cuts and implementing countermeasures lead to a fiscal gap of 0.3 percent of the 2019 GDP.

# At the same time, there are concerns in Europe, not least in Germany, over the future prospects of the Greek economy. “Greece is not a big issue in Germany, however, the issue of pensions is being discussed,” the director of research at DIW, Alexander Kritikos, told the Athens Digest. “Taxes are very high and the economy is not growing at a fast pace. There is, therefore, some anxiety in Germany that in 2-3 years, when there will no longer be a fiscal buffer, Greece will return as an issue for Europe.” Kritikos bemoaned that there are currently no priorities for the reduction of taxes and insurance contributions of self-employed professionals, which reach 70 or 80-percent of their income. “This leads them to the black market. Instead of moving ahead with non implementation of pension reform, the government could proceed with a tax cut that would boost the economy.”

# Ruling SYRIZA submitted its proposals for Greece’s constitutional review on Friday. The two most contentious issues are the separation of Church and state, and the way the President is elected. Opposition New Democracy is also expected to submit its own proposals, including the establishment of private universities, which is opposed by the ruling leftist party. The number of articles that will qualify for revision must be approved by 180 lawmakers in the 300-seat Parliament. The articles can be revised with the vote of 151 MPs in Greece’s next Parliament. If, on the other hand, the articles that qualify for revision are approved by less than 180 MPs, then the proposed revisions will need the approval of 180 MPs in the country’s next Parliament.

# Nine suspects were detained (two of them were arrested) on Friday in connection with a stunt earlier in the day by the Rouvikonas anti-establishment group at the Argentine embassy in central Athens. Members of the group barged into the embassy, hung a banner and handed out fliers to employees paying tribute to the “struggling Argentine people.”

# Anarchists targeted a Lidl supermarket in a northern Athens suburb yesterday for opening on a Sunday, smashing windows and throwing painting. Shops had the option to open for business yesterday amid mid-season sales. A “Never on Sunday” rally was held in Athens as well as in Thessaloniki yesterday.

On Our Radar: No crisis for… snacks
Despite the reduced spending power of consumers due to Greece’s financial crisis, sales of salty snacks have risen exponentially in the past seven years, with manufacturers showing gains of more than 50-percent. According to figures of the market research firm IRI, sales of salty snacks (chips, shrimps, tortillas, etc.) have soared since 2012 from EUR 58.9 million to an expected EUR 90 million this year.