When the UK had to go cap in hand to the IMF in the seventies in order to borrow to survive, it was North Sea Oil that helped the nation.
Notwithstanding the agreed EU loan package, Greece too can at last see a light at the end of the tunnel with the discovery of natural gas and oil.
Currently eight of the world's largest seismic survey companies are bidding for exploration. Two will be awarded contracts by end April to begin exploratory drilling before the end of 2012. Substantial hydrocarbon deposits have been identified in the Ionian Sea, near Corfu and another south of Crete.
It is anticipated Greece will begin earning a revenue stream from these deposits prior to 2020.
Greeks are lazy good for nothings!
For nearly six years Greece has had to endure the longest recession in history. Unemployment stands at over 20%. Savage austerity measures have slashed wages and pensions in an effort to reduce sovereign debt. Despite this the Greek people are struggling to move forward, notwithstanding the UK media purporting to show Greeks as lazy good for nothings.
Research carried out by the OECD - the respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has found this image of Greeks to be untrue.
Statistics by the OECD have revealed the average German works a total of only 1,390 hours per year. In Spain it's 1,654 hours while in Portugal it's 1,719, but the average Greek works a massive 2,119 hours per year!
The ONS - the UK government's Office for National Statistics confirm that the average worker in Britain only works 1,888 hours per year.
That means the average Greek works more than six weeks a year longer than his counterpart in the UK.
Greece sees the light
With an abundance of sunshine, Greece is seeking to export power generated by solar panels before 2015.
In the coming weeks the Energy Minister, George Papaconstantinou has confirmed Greece will adopt legislation to simplify planning and aims to connect its first 300 megawatt plant by the end of next year as part of the Greek Helios solar-energy project.
Named after the ancient God of the Sun, Helios is a 20 billion investment aimed at installing 10 gigawatts of solar panels in Greece by 2050. Based on current solar energy prices in Germany the project has the potential for generating a revenue of 80 billion euros for Greece over the next 25 years. The electricity produced will be exported to other European Union nations and will also help Greece meet the EU objectives for renewable energy targets in Europe and low carbon economies by 2020.
Greece is doing great!
With the UK sovereign debt standing in excess of 1 trillion pounds - and still not being markedly reduced - Greece should be applauded for the steps it has taken to redress its sovereign debt.
Did you know, with current sovereign debt and borrowing needed to prop up major banks, plus the debt of pension funds such as the Post Office to be addressed - the UK borrowing percentage of GDP is the same as Greece!
While the UK has been dilly dallying, savage austerity measures have been introduced in Greece and an EU Taskforce established to support the implementation of structural reforms to modernise the country's bureaucracy.
So what has that accomplished?
Over two years Greece has achieved an annual rate of fiscal consolidation averaging 4.2% of GDP - the highest level recorded in the developed world over several decades.
Greece ranks number two in terms of the degree of adjustment happening in its economy during 2009 - 2011, according to figures released by Euro Plus Monitor.
The stereotype of Greece criticised as the lame, lazy duck of the EU is now no longer true.
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There's no doubt Greece has been made the scapegoat of Europe, being pilloried in the media spotlight with half truths and distorted facts. Much of the media coverage refers to - bailout, aid, financial assistance - all giving the impression that cartloads of cash is arriving in Athens for a great giveaway.
The reality is somewhat different. Shut out from international markets, the Greek government was forced to borrow from Germany, France and others, rather than from banks and investors that would normally have bought government bonds. Greece was able to borrow from these countries at about 3.5%. As Germany borrows on the market at around 2% it makes a whopping 75% profit when lending to Greece. With Germany advancing 8.4 billion and France 9 billion, these countries stood to make about 600 million euros in profit.
But the 130 billion bailout will help all that won't it? The short answer is no. Nearly 94 billion will go to pay interest, recapitalize banks and private sector payments to restructure borrowing.
POT AND KETTLE!
Greece was never the only one. Too many governments - the UK included - allowed sovereign debt to get out of hand. In 2012 the UK will spend £705 billion to help keep public services going - but will raise only £5,750 billion in tax revenue. That gap, plus existing borrowing, means the country's deficit is well over £1 trillion - equivalent to every man, woman and child in the UK owing £16,400. Yet the UK government has not yet introduced savage austerity measures such as those being endured by the Greek people.
As Greece makes valiant efforts to reform - just as the UK had to do in the 1970's - Greece should not be treated as the pariah of Europe, when there are so many other countries in a similar position.
GREEKS ARE LAZY!
Well look at the facts. The average German works only 1,390 hours per year, while the average Greek works 2,119 hours per annum. So who's lazy?
The Greek people are enduring tremendous hardship with increased taxes, salaries and pensions cut overnight and the minimum wage slashed to less than £500 per month - that's nearly 30% less than the minimum wage in Spain and 50% of that in the UK. The 'Troika' of lending bodies to Greece have crushed the country into accepting cuts so deep that Greece will experience a depression far deeper than that of the infamous Great Depression during the 1920's in America - the world's worst ever economic downturn.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO ME?
The austerity measures affect the incomes and pensions of locals and in the longer term, with lower wages, this will gradually drive down the cost of living. As you probably have capital and pensions based in sterling this should mean you get even more for your money.
Crete is the location which accounts for 85% of overseas buyers in the Greek property market. As it's cheaper to live in Crete than it is in the UK - even now - that can only be better for you. Coupled with a far better quality of life and not to mention 320 days of sunshine and no more freezing cold winters, you owe it to yourself to turn that dream of yours into reality - and check out the best value for money when buying a home in Crete.
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Recent events have painted a picture of Greece and its people as being greedy and lazy good for nothings, but is this a case of a pot calling the kettle black? Go back three years and the UK banking system was in meltdown, people were up to their necks in debt, maxing out on credit cards as if there was no tomorrow. That was never the case in Greece. It's a cash society so there was never the same level of personal debt and banks didn't have to be bailed out by tax payers either. Yes, the Greek government did borrow more than it should - but then so too did the UK. All countries have to borrow money in its daily business and it's confidence that enables them to secure realistic rates of interest. Unfortunately the markets turned on Greece and raised their lending costs so much that compound interest inflated borrowing repayments beyond sustainable levels.
In a desperate fight to contain the country's solvency the Greek government introduced a whole raft of measures to reduce sovereign debt.
Tax thresholds were slashed from £10,300 down to £4,300. VAT was raised to an eye watering 23%. All pensions above £860 a month were cut by 20%. Public sector wages were chopped by 20%, while employees of state-owned enterprises had wages decimated by 30%. 'Solidarity' payments of 1%-5% of annual salaries were deducted in lump sums. If you owned a car with an engine size of over 3 litres you had to pay a one off 'Solidarity' payment of approximately £450 and the latest move has been the introduction of a property tax. Based on the size and location of your house, typically on a two bedroom Snobby, this amounts to around £250 per year, levied on the electric bill.
All this and a typical salary in Greece is only around £1,100 per month. Not only that, but unemployment stands at 18% and that does not include the forthcoming wholesale reduction in public sector employment.
As with all things in the world of politics, it's the man in the street who ends up standing there in disbelief, having to pay for the mess created by politicians. While for the most part austerity measures do not really effect ex-pats, for Greeks times are hard - and will probably remain so for some time to come as the government grapples to stimulate growth, while a battered and bruised population is forced to dig ever deeper into their pockets to help fund it.
After all said and done, for Brits wondering whether to make that move to the sun, don't believe what the UK media says about Greece. Far better to listen to someone who actually lives there! Crete is still a safe place to live, the weather is wonderful, the crime rate is low and your UK pension buys you a far better lifestyle compared to the doom and gloom of having to live in the UK.
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Not a Snobby I hasten to add, but houses built by other developers.
Culturally when a local buys a house it’s invariably for life. Following this thinking and the fact that a Greek property contract is extremely difficult to follow, there have been many occasions where builders have flouted planning issues to cut corners and costs, never thinking they would ever be discovered. However, we Brits are more used to selling a place every few years and these problems have begun to rear their head, due to more effective monitoring and planning regulations which are being considerably tightened.
Pools have been a way to cut corners. A Planning license can cost around 4,000 or more euros. Build without one and this can save a developer quite a bit of money. When the owner comes to selling, chances are this illegality will be picked up by the purchaser’s lawyer and the sale is lost.
When building outside the village boundary, a building license will be granted only for a single linked property. While drawings submitted will show perhaps three properties, they are linked together in some way to create one unit of construction and a building license is issued on that basis. However, the developer will often not comply with the license and builds three separate detached houses, which can be sold for a lot more money than a linked property.
Snobby only ever buys land within a village boundary, where it can be legally split into single freehold plots, for individual ownership, just as you would expect in the UK.
However, other developers have built on land outside the village boundary where individual ownership of plots is not legally possible. Let’s say there are three houses on a development. Each home is defined by a topographic drawing which identifies each plot, but the purchaser will own his land as a percentage of the whole site, which is jointly and severally owned by the other owners.
If you fall in love with a resale, here are two important points you need to check.
1 – The topographic survey of the property should have signatures signed by every neighbour who owns a boundary with the plot. This should prevent any land disputes.
2-Have your lawyer employ an engineer to survey the property. This may cost, but it will give you a better opportunity to judge the legality of the property. For example the building license which forms part of the contract may show 65 sq. m. of building, but the owners have added on an outside kitchen without planning. That’s illegal. This couldn’t be picked up just from sitting in an office.
If all this seems a little fraught and a bit of a gamble, buy new and take the simple and secure route by buying an honest Snobby. We guarantee every Snobby is, and has always been, 100% legal and as safe as houses.
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Except they can’t. A stagnant UK property market means they’re going nowhere – but now help is at hand!
The island of Crete has always been popular for holidays. Now it’s attracting the attention of Skiers due to its fantastic weather with 320 days of sunshine a year and no freezing cold winters. That’s a big saving on the energy costs you pay in the UK. There’s no council tax, which saves a thousand or so, and eating locally grown produce is not only better for you, it’s cheaper too! A couple can live comfortably in Crete on a pension of £10,000 a year. Just compare that to the UK!
However, there’s a big fly in the ointment preventing Skiers from enjoying this brighter lifestyle. The UK property market is in the doldrums, preventing many from selling their house, which they need to do in order to buy a home in Crete. Most people have sufficient to put down a deposit, but need the money from their house sale in the UK to pay the balance. In today’s market there’s no knowing when that will be.
Snobby Homes is a leading property developer in western Crete. Their Marketing Director, Mike Saunders says, “We’ve seen people devastated, having fallen in love with a development but unable to proceed because they cannot sell their house in the UK. Our Helping Hand scheme is very simple, it allows buyers to realize their dream now - and there’s absolutely no risk.”
Get a feel for the quality and see the specification of a Snobby show house and check out locations where Snobby are building. If you fall in love, then a Purchase Agreement is prepared, which is a legal quotation, confirming specification, plot and freezing the build price for either 1 or 2 years. Within this deed you have the legal right to delay construction until you have sold your house in the UK, which means you’re always ahead of the game. You don’t pay a penny more, there are no stage payments and the balance due is only paid when your new home is complete.
What’s more when your lawyer pays over your deposit, Snobby transfers ownership of the land into your name, so your money is never at risk.
Says Saunders, “Our Helping Hand scheme means you can fall in love with a plot and without any pressure, realize your dream, secure in the knowledge that you’re in absolute control.”
Snobby Homes have several small developments along the cost of western Crete. They are proud of their reputation of building quality houses with a luxury specification - the lowest price in Crete for new build detached homes. What’s more Snobbys are sold at an all-inclusive price which means you know precisely what to budget for, whereas all other builders and agents add on many thousands extra, on top of the house price, to pay for taxes, legal fees and purchase costs.
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