The Greek state stands to lose up to eight billion euro in taxes if predictions that 120,000 small and medium-sized businesses will close in 2011 are borne out, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) pointed out on Monday.

Based on a study conducted by the ESEE's Institute for the Study of Commerce and Services, six in 10 SMEs are currently operating at a loss.

According to figures presented in the study those facing the prospect of closure included 24,000 self-employed currently generating 309,494,880 euros in tax revenue, 66,000 single person businesses that would lead to revenue losses of 3,598,514,700 euros, 24,000 small companies that would result in 2,276,835,360 euro in losses for the state and 6,000 societe anonyme leading to 1,703,970,960 euros in lost revenue for the state. In total, these sums amount to an estimated 7,888,815,900 euros.

There were 65,000 business closures in 2010 and the lost tax revenue for the state was roughly three billion euros. According to ESEE, another wave of business closures is expected to take place immediate after the end of the winter sales.

Commenting on a strike by retailers on February 23, on the same day as the general strike declared by the country's two largest trade union federations, ESEE President Vassilis Korkidis stressed that this was mainly symbolic and a sign that people "have had enough".

He said that the way to stop businesses closing was to put an end to "invisible tax evasion" in the form of black market trade.

Asked about projected participation in the protest closure on February 23, Korkidis said that 150 owners of shops in the centre of Athens intend to stay shut on that day, even though their association as a whole decided to close during the hours of a planned march and rally, while other merchant associations around Greece intend to join in the shop closures.