Photo: Flickr / pierpaolop
Two separate stories in Greek newspaper Ekathimerini appear to show a common theme in terms of what’s happening to the Greek economy as the state becomes more and more desperate for revenue at a time when the private sector is more and more desperate to avoid paying it.The black market for cigarettes is exploding:
Sales of smuggled cigarettes have more than trebled in Greece, amounting to an estimated 3.5 billion euros per year, or 15 per cent of the legal market, as the worsening of the economic recession and repeated price hikes for tobacco products have frustrated smokers.
Historically, the smuggled cigarettes market had amounted to 3 per cent of the legal one, but the latter is rapidly shrinking. In the years 2010 and 2011 it contracted by a total of 25 per cent, while for the first two months of 2012 it has shown an additional decline of 10 per cent year-on-year.
The hundreds of gold traders and pawn shops that have sprung up across Greece over the past three or four years are rapidly making it into the police’s crime bulletins on an almost daily basis.
Behind many of the garish store signs advertising “I buy gold,” found on almost every main street in every neighbourhood in the country, what is abundantly clear is that laws and regulations stay at the door, as authorities in Greece find themselves stymied by the massive trade in gold and unable to get a grip on the number of such stores that are cropping up or the manner in which they go into business.