by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of foreign pensioners will become tax residents in Greece this spring, according to the Finance Ministry, as the country steps up efforts to tap into the fast-growing "silver economy", which refers to the set of products and services that people will consume when they are old.
The shift to the silver economy could bring into Greece about 13.6 billion euros (16.2 billion U.S. dollars) and create over 100,000 new jobs in a five-year period, according to a study conducted by the Athens-based Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in association with the local DiaNEOsis think tank, Thodoris Georgakopoulos, editorial director at DiaNEOsis, told a recent forum here.
The estimate includes revenues and job positions linked to the sale of real estate, long stay of foreign senior citizens, as well as medical, spa, wellness and other types of tourism products and services offered to them.
So far, 45 retirees, mainly from Germany and Scandinavia, have submitted applications since the beginning of this year. They will soon be enjoying the sun, a healthy Mediterranean diet, the Greek lifestyle and lower taxes. Finance Ministry officials told the local financial news site capital.gr that a further 50 applications are expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.
Under a new law adopted last summer, qualifying retirees will be paying a flat rate of income tax of 7 percent every year, should they move their tax residence to the country. In Greece, an individual's income is normally taxed at a progressive rate between 9 percent and 44 percent.
The incentive is part of a strategic plan the Greek authorities have drafted to seize the opportunities offered by the silver economy.
By 2025, the European Union's (EU) silver economy is projected by the European Commission to grow to 5.7 trillion euros, up from 3.7 trillion euros in 2015, while by 2060, one in three Europeans will be over the age of 65, according to a recent press statement of Enterprise Greece, the official trade and investment promotion agency of the Greek state.
Currently, Europe is home to the world's oldest population, with a median age of 42.5 years, said a green paper released earlier this year by the European Commission, which has launched consultations on ways to manage the associated challenges.
With its sunny climate, analysts say Greece has the potential to become "Europe's Florida" and the Greek government's effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has further raised the country's profile as a retirement destination, according to Enterprise Greece.
"As people understand that this is a country that is actually well-run, with a well-functioning public health system, they will be more encouraged not just to come to Greece for holidays, but also to come to work in Greece, or spend more time and live in Greece and buy property here," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has stated.
"Development of the silver economy has the potential to boost existing strengths in the Greek economy and could clearly become a growth sector for Greece, by also attracting foreign investment in the years to come," Andreas Yannopoulos, founder of the InvestGR Forum, told Xinhua.
"Furthermore, the silver economy can also serve to improve regional health and other services, an important priority for the European Commission. With these goals in mind, the Greek government has recently taken steps to attract retired people to Greece, and investors are already responding and looking to develop solutions and services for the sector," he explained.
The silver economy can stimulate two major pillars of the Greek economy: tourism and construction, while laying the foundation for the development of many other sectors, such as health and wellness services, real estate, new technologies and agri-food, Pascal Apostolides, general manager of the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie in Greece, told a recent forum in Athens. The potential is enormous, he stressed. (1 euro = 1.19 U.S. dollars) Enditem