PM meets with producer classes ahead of TIF; statements by representatives

A meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou with representatives of social partners and producer groups was concluded on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.
No less than 10 relevant ministers also attended the meeting.
According to reports, representatives of various groups detailed the dire economic situation at present, mostly noting that a punishing recession continues to worsen.
Objections were aired over the way a liberalisation of so-called "closed professions" is proceeding, while criticism of VAT rates in the food & beverage sector was also reported.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos was quoted as saying that the implementation of major reforms is a "painful ordeal for the majority of society, it undoubtedly has a great political and social cost, but the cost for all of us will be nightmarishly bigger if the effort fails."
Daskalopoulos assessed that the political system "is showing recently to be trying to gain political time..."
The president of the Central Union of Chambers, George Kassimatis, said that "certainly the picture of the economy is gloomy; the crisis is deepening and the margins for change ... structural changes, as well as taxation and fiscal issues, are minimal."
The new president of the civil servants union (ADEDY), Costas Tsikrikas, said his group has expressed its intense opposition to significant pay cuts against civil servants, which he said approach 40 percent.
GSEBEE president Dimitris Asimakopoulos charged that "on the issue of VAT that we raised there was no response by the finance minister, while the prime minister also backed Mr. Venizelos' stance."
ESEE president Vassilis Korkidis said "we called for a stop of the 'attack' on low and medium-level entrepreneurship; a stop to the annihilation of the middle class ... we know that taxes and death will always exist, but it is not essential for taxes to cause the economic death of the low and middle classes in Greece."
He further said that "the prime minister told us that we are absolutely right, but that simply there are certain commitments that we must observe."
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos said "the representatives of the employers' organisations, apart from their demands, must not forget that tax evasion, tax theft, the lack of resources emanate from them, although they are also the only ones who have not paid for the crisis ... we stressed that the sector of salaried employment, pensioners and the unemployed have reached their limits."
Finally, SETE president Andreas Andrianos said that "with the latest data of August, and despite the problems due to strikes, tourism is presenting a positive side ... we are being led to a year in which an all-time record will be set, with 16.5 million arrivals within the year."

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