The Greek government is determined to reverse the brain drain. The country lost about 500.000 of its most highly skilled workers during the debt crisis of 2010-2018.
Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, says that GDP growth and new jobs need highly skilled workforce to take the country to the next industrial revolution.
Next week the Greek government will introduce a new law that will cut by 50% income tax :
- for employees (Greek or foreign) that move their tax residency in Greece in 2021.
- for professionals working abroad that choose to start their own business in Greece.
The initiative is in the right direction but not enough. That was the message send by the Greeks Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke to, via teleconference, to present the new law and ask for feedback.
Eleven Greeks of the diaspora participated in the teleconference:
Avgoustinos Galiassos, founder of platform Greeks in London
Spiros Kavvadias, Banking Audit services at Ernst & Young
Alexandros Karafillides, Vice President Southern Europe & Baltics Carlsberg
Eleni Karamologkou, head of social media at Sky TV
Maria Katsarou – Makin, businesswoman
Melina Galeadi, businesswoman
Nikos Koutris, Linkedin
Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at CareerBuilder and Broadbean UK
Ektoras Chandakas, Head of Innovation Transamo
Giannis Zafeiris, Head of Sales Department, Middle East, Caterpillar
Elomida Visviki, co-founder and CEO of Weav Music
All of them said that most Greeks working abroad would like to come back to Greece one day. But they, also, agreed that a tax cut, though positive, alone will not do it. There must be overall favorable conditions to make Greece attractive.
These are the main points of concern:
- Stability of the tax system and stability of the work environment. As the participants noted the income tax break the government introduces might be overturned in the near future. The tax regime in Greece is particularly unstable and tends to be severely affected by political change.
- Attracting investment and creating high end professional jobs. Greece used to be a business Southeast Europe Hub. Big private organisations and companies covered the wider region by their headquarters in Greece. Many have left during the crisis. Greece lacks investment and the companies that would attract “citizens of the world”.
- Facilitating family adjustment. Most of the participants said that moving to Greece means moving the whole family. They stress the need for services to help the family find a house, help the children adjust to school and help the professionals conclude all necessary procedures to work in Greece.
- Cutting red tape and safeguarding meritocracy. Despite progress been made lately, bureaucracy is still a point of concern for most Greeks working abroad.
Summing up, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said that the coronavirus crisis can be “the big opportunity for Greece. In an era that you can work from anywhere, why not work from Greece?” he asked and used the famous line “If you build it they will come” from the movie Field of Dreams. “Yes, if Greece changes, the Greeks will return” he said.