Der Spiegel’s Julia Amalia Heyer recently interviewed a couple of Greek shipping magnates about what it’s like to be rich in a floundering country. Leon Patitsas, a 36-year-old heir to a shipping fortune, tells Heyer that the state offers no security to Greece’s business class. That stance, he said is rooted in the population’s belief that capital is to blame for everything, “and not the powerful unions that actually destroy jobs with their unrealistic demands rather than preserving them.”
But Heyer writes that Greece’s shipping industry enjoys unusual leeway when it comes to what it owes the state.
Although Greece-owned ships transport 20 per cent of the world’s seaborne cargo, they “usually” sail under the flags of other countries, she says.
As a result:
…the world’s largest merchant fleet hardly contributes anything to Greece’s economic performance, and shipping revenues aren’t taxed. In fact, shipping companies don’t even have to pay taxes for divisions that have nothing to do with transporting cargo on the seas.
What’s more, she writes, the EU recently identified 57 different tax amnesties for Greece shipowners.
Patitsas says all this is necessary: the country’s merchant marine fleet is the largest in the world, creating 400,000 jobs for the economy — jobs, he says, “that could go elsewhere at any time.”
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