Greece’s Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, was the guest speaker at this week's successful Greek Australian Dialogue Series.
The event was organised by Mr. Paul Nicolaou, the Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Leaders Council and Mrs. Katia Gkikiza, Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia.
The virtual meeting was an opportunity for Greek Australian business leaders to learn about the Government’s strategies in bolstering Greece’s business environment and how the country is handling the covid-19 pandemic.
Opening the video conference, Mrs. Katia Gzikiza presented interesting recent data regarding economic relations between Greece and Australia.
“It is worth noting that amid the pandemic, the total volume of trade in goods between Greece and Australia increased by 12.5% in the year 2020. To put this in perspective, I would like to point out that in the same year the total volume of trade between the European Union 27 member states and Australia fell by 8.4%,” she said.
"But the year 2020 was not an exception from the recent trend of greek exports to Australia. Indeed greek exports of goods to Australia have been growing steadily in recent years. They surpassed €100,000,000 for the first year in 2010. Then they surpassed €150,000,000 in the year 2017. And last year in the year 2020, they surpassed €200,000,000 for the first time."
During his presentation, Mr Staikouras presented Greece’s recovery plan and the government’s priorities.
“In Greece the government has been dealing with a health crisis and its impact to the best of its ability, promptly, swiftly and efficiently, as it been recognised internationally,” he Staikouras.
“With a coherent, methodical and dynamic plan, we have strengthened public health, supported households and employment, boosted business liquidity, and safeguarded social cohesion with measures totalling €24 billion in 2020, and traditionally €11.6 billion for 2021.”
Particularly for the business community, recognising the problems that arose in the total functioning of the economy, due to the necessity restrictions that were taken to stop the spread of the pandemic, the government designed and implemented targeted tools and measures.
“We have launched a program for small and medium businesses. This program will provide a subsidy for most of the business loan instalments for a period of eight months, in order to support businesses hit by the COVID-19 outbreak,” he added.
"In any case, we cannot be complacent. The health crisis is not over yet and there is still great uncertainty all over the world. Thus we will not cease our efforts and we will continue to support the business environment operating methodically, efficiently and transparently" to ensure a solid base for recovery," the Finance Minister continued.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the current months will be difficult. The return to normality will be gradual and the post-coronavirus era will bring forth new challenges related to the structure of the economy, the transformation of the labour market and digitalisation."
When Mr Staikouras was asked what he wanted his legacy to be as a Finance Minister, he responded: “I always exercise my duties guided by my country’s and citizens’ interests. As for what I would like to leave behind is a productive, strong, extroverted and internationally competitive and national economy.”
The closing remarks and vote of thanks were given by the Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis, who emphasised that the Greek-Australian diaspora "is alive and kicking" and ready for bilateral relationships to continue and expand.