The next day for the economy and society was the theme of the 10th Annual Capital Link CSR Forum, which was held digitally on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 with the participation of both speakers and members from the Greek Diaspora as the company is based in New York. The Conference was organized under the auspices of the Attica Region, the City of Athens, the Municipality of Piraeus, the Greek National Tourism Organization – GNTO and with the support of the Consulate General of Greece in New York.
The conference was hosted for 10th consecutive year by Capital Link. The timely theme “Economy and Society: The next day” gave the opportunity to 40 distinguished speakers, representatives of the Greek government, local government, entrepreneurs, investors, bankers and expatriates to express their views on the next day after the Covid-19 pandemic and to suggest measures for restoring the economy and society, the impact on each sector as well as the new market landscape, which has emerged with the implementation of restrictive and precautionary measures.
The Forum’s theme was “Economy and Society: The next day” and it dealt with the economic consequences from Covid-19, restarting the Economy, is vital in order to secure the transition to a new growth model which will essentially contribute to a more active form of participation by all entities involved and by the society to return Greece back to the recovery path.
Nicolas Bornozis, President, Capital Link Inc., welcomed the attendees to the 10th Annual Capital Link CSR Forum on “ECONOMY & SOCIETY: THE NEXT DAY”, and stated:
“The resumption of the Economy and Society is a challenge that all governments around the world have to face, adapting to the new reality created by the pandemic.
The Forum examines how key areas will face the new market landscape given the fact that the economy was shut down for months; the restrictive measures that were taken, and the shift to the adoption of digital solutions. The question is how the country will manage to orchestrate as quickly as possible a dynamic return to growth. The return to normalcy is a matter of time, and the current situation, no matter how painful, allows for a fresh start. There are needed loser and more constructive cooperation between the public and private sectors, targeted government programs to support and develop the economy, and the adoption of new initiatives by the private sector.
As I mentioned, we have a high standard agenda with top interlocutors and presenters from Greece and abroad, from the government, the public and private sectors. We should also note the significant participation of expatriates from America with recognized prestige and scope. And we will cover all key areas and issues.”
INNOVATION & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Chairman Envolve Entrepreneurship & Greece Representative for Libra Social Responsibility – Libra Group, referring to corporate social responsibility, noted that a little help from any entity, whether private or public, can make a big difference and change people’s lives. . At this point, he cited as an example 10 social responsibility programs that the Group has set up in recent years, saying that they have changed the lives of many people. He went on to praise the wide range of initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Development, and spoke highly of the reversal in the communications environment, saying that “Greece has succeeded in only a few months to turn from being “the black sheep” to a pioneer in what it has accomplished.” Finally, he estimated that Greece can excel in the field of research-innovation and in the field of start-up entrepreneurship.
Dr. Christos Dimas, Deputy Minister of Development and Investments, stated:
“Very soon we will be legislating:
• The National Start-up Registry “Elevate Greece” which will map the Greek ecosystem and act as a policy tool to provide financial and tax incentives to the start-ups.
• Tax incentives such as the more than tripling of the, super-deduction rates, from 30% to 100%, for companies investing in Research and Development.
• Tax incentives for angel investors
• The creation of the first Innovation District in Greece that will host R&D departments of companies, start-ups, spin off, incubators and accelerators.”
Mr. Steve Vranakis, Chief Creative Officer – Government of the Hellenic Republic, in his introductory remarks stated: “A country is only good as its people. And we have the human capital and the leadership”. Clarifying that he is not speaking from a political perspective, Mr. Vranakis said the government had taken tangible steps to turbocharge the startup ecosystem. “What I saw was a moment, just as we were coming out of the 10-year crisis, where the right people came together under the right leadership of our prime minister. And it is so action oriented. I did almost 10 years in Google, where every single thing we did we were accountable for.” As he said, he is pleased to see that many of these methods are being adopted by the Greek government. “And I think that when you have people who have that shared vision of what this great place could be again and people align behind that vision, we can do incredible things.”
Mr. Alexandros Nousias, Country Director Greece – Envolve Entrepreneurship, stated: “The importance of startups for the economy and society could be summed up in the word evolution,” said Alexandros Nousias, stressing that startups help by boosting development and rendering the economy more competitive. “There is an extraordinary human capital in the country. Therefore, if we cannot have a heavy industry like France or Germany, we should definitely put more emphasis on human talent and research”, he said. In addition, he explained that although the Greek market is small, this can prove to be an advantage for startups by offering some room for experimentation.
SMEs – CHALLENGES & O
PPORTUNITIES DURING &
POST COVID-19 CRISIS
Tassos Iossiphides, Partner and Head of EY’s Transaction Advisory Services in Greece, explained that the Greek economy, due to its structure – as it predominantly & proportionally consists of very small SMEs– along with its dependence on tourism, has been proven to be more vulnerable to the effects of a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. “Reforming the country’s business model according to the market’s current needs, shifting focus to sectors other than tourism, with an added emphasis on digital technology and exports, will allow Greece to become more resilient in the face of future crises”, concluded Mr. Iossiphides.
Nikos C. Papathanasis, Deputy Minister for Industry & Commerce – Ministry of Development & Investments, in his speech he stated: “The Government responded rapidly in the handling of the pandemic and set the protection of human life as its main priority. The restart of the economy still remains a difficult task. We introduced an economic package that included 14 billion euros in fiscal measures and 10 billion euros in bank guarantees to support businesses. We provided them with financial tools to ensure liquidity and the businesses responded in a positive way. We are presently planning the new industrial strategy and we are offering additional support to the SMEs in order to respond to new challenges that our transition in the new era of Industry 4.0 may bring.”
Athina Chatzipetrou, President & CEO – Hellenic Development Bank SA (former ETEAN SA), focused on the promotion of fair, non-exclusive and sustainable development. As she said, the Hellenic Development Bank will try to fill the structural financial gap that plagues the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises, which has widened due to the crisis caused by the pandemic. Mrs. Chatzipetrou revealed that the Hellenic Development Bank is planning and will soon offer many innovative products to small and medium enterprises and at the same time will focus on project financing in the field of infrastructure, local networks and urban development.
“This vision is in line with the overall development strategy of the country, which seeks to help businesses and to create quickly thousands new jobs.”
Dimitra Papandreou, Principal Manager Advice for Small Businesses Greece – SME Finance & Development Group – European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), stated: “The EBRD has invested c. €3.5 billion in 60 projects in Greece since 2015. In addition, our Advice for Small Businesses Programme, with funding from the EU through EIB and the Greek Government, has supported 80 Greek SMEs with tailored advisory services and more than 200 additionally with know-how transfer. The EBRD was the first IFI to announce a COVID response resilience framework. We are continuing our investment activities in Greece, with the first investment in 2020 being direct financing to a Greek SME. We are also stepping up our very successful Trade Facilitation Programme. We continue to provide advisory support to SMEs remotely, providing a 70-88% grant for the advisory costs, we developed an open educational platform for SMEs with covid response related content and we are also continuing our SME Pre-listing support programme for SMEs seeking alternative ways of financing through the local capital market.”
E-GOV: DIGITAL SOLUTIONS
BENEFITING THE STATE & CITIZENS
Kyriakos Pierrakakis, Minister of Digital Governance, Ministry of Digital Governance, explained the seven pillars of the country’s digital transformation strategy. Adopting the view that “the state is one” and aimed at improving the lives of citizens, the Minister made a brief presentation of the pillars, which are: the site gov.gr, where all the digital services of the Greek State have been gathered; the simplification of procedures; citizen identification strategies; telecommunications; digital skills; data and cybersecurity. It is worth noting that on Tuesday morning the Minister presented to the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis the Digital Citizens’ Academy, a digital platform that has gathered 214 educational programs that provide 1,800 hours of free digital skills training, from 32 providers.
“The crisis of the corona has accelerated the implementation of strategies and procedures that we have already launched, but it has led us to invent new things,” he said. Finally, the Minister described the National Digital Strategy as “a great pending issue of the country that became a necessity,” saying that the country does not have the luxury to lose the IT train.
Panos Papazoglou, Managing Partner of EY in Greece, focused on e-government and how digital technologies and the internet, can greatly improve quality of life for citizens, by simplifying once complex procedures and transactions with the State. He stressed that, while “quick wins” help people understand the benefits of digitalization, it is the forward-looking vision for materializing strategic digital infrastructure projects, that really makes a difference. “The biggest challenge for the State and businesses alike, will be planning for recovery by means of digital transformation and by making good use of lessons learned during the pandemic”, Mr. Papazoglou concluded.
INVESTMENTS – GROWTH – ECONOMY – SOCIETY
Adonis Georgiadis, Minister – Ministry of Development & Investments, stated: “Mitsotakis administration main priority is to double Foreign Direct Investments in the coming years from 1,8% of GDP today, said Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Development & Investments, in the 10th DIGITAL Capital Link CSR Forum.
“The big investment projects that have started such as the development of the former Hellenikon airport in Athens, the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, and luxury hotels and residences in Greek islands and Peloponnese, are milestones of the new, improved business environment in Greece”, Mr Georgiadis stressed in his speech.
Furthermore, he reassured that Mitsotakis administration is a pure reform government that “implements a wide range of reforms in Greek economy across the board in order to transform Greece to a more business-friendly and attractive to investors country’, referring especially to the further simplification of licensing procedures, the improvement of business environment, reforms in justice and tax cuts.”
HEALTH & PHARMACEUTICALS
INDUSTRY – NEW CHALLENGES
Mr. Vasileios Kikilias, Minister – Ministry of Health, in his speech he stated:
“On the successful handling of the pandemic in Greece”
The human resources of the National Health System, scientists, technocrats in the health sector, cooperated harmoniously in the face of the danger of pandemic.
Human life is above all, without an asterisk.
In Greece, we proved that.
Not for a moment did we consider the financial cost or consequences in order to protect vulnerable groups, our grandparents, and people with underlying diseases, those who were most at risk.
Prevention comes first, before the handling. Modern health systems must ensure an important, key part of Public Health which precedes healthcare. We saw a potential danger in China and organized the health system, based on the rules suggested by the experts.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the right decisions in time. They were tough but necessary, such as the lockdown, but the Greeks were disciplined, they were like a huge family that fought together.
Our Hospitals have complied with the rules of protection, we have built a supply air bridge from China to in a “global war” to secure Personal Protective Equipment, and this is how we have protected our health. We did not have any medical deaths in Greece from coronavirus.
We mourn the 190 dead, but we have seen other countries lose tenfold in one day.
We passed the first phase successfully and became an example to follow. It was a national effort, not a political party or other party effort. It is credited not only to the Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but to all Greeks.
And it was an opportunity to rebuild our country’s brand.
Dr. Dimitris C. Iliopoulos, MD, Associate Professor of Cardiac Surgery, stated: “Greece has managed to timely and properly implement a public health safety plan and contained the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, COVID-19 has led to a national catastrophe in countries with superior infrastructures, such as Italy, Spain, France, and the United States.
At a time when our nation’s healthcare resources were insufficient to meet this unprecedented demand, it was necessary to prioritize needs in the hopes of maximizing lives saved. Although delaying definitive treatment of disorders presented a risk to specific individuals, countless others afforded life-saving resources necessary to overcome the most threatening manifestation of this illness.
The cataclysm of Covid-19 offers an opportunity to reshape health care in ways that may not have seemed possible just a few months ago. To help scientists & clinicians across disciplines connect their strengths, so that together we can advance the state of the art in medicine and lead the way to a new era of computational medicine. Will we have the collective will to make public health, social justice, equity, workplace safety and the practice of medicine greater priorities than financial success?”
THE POST –COVID 19 LANDSCAPE
OF CORE INDUSTRIES : FOOD
SECTOR – REAL ESTATE – ENERGY – INVESTING
Petros Char. Machas, Chairman – Founding Partner, Machas and Partners Law Firm, reflected on the world that would emerge from the pandemic and assessed how the markets would be affected from the crisis, especially in what has to do with the food sector, the real estate market and energy.
John P. Calamos, Sr., Founder, Chairman and Global Chief Investment Officer, Calamos Investments, stated he “Remains very optimistic for global equity markets. While the economic impact of COVID-19 has been significant, the fiscal and monetary response worldwide has been equally significant. When we do have an effective treatment or vaccine, we would expect market breadth to widen and exposure to more cyclical industries to begin to outperform globally. In the interim, the disruption caused by COVID-19 has resulted in a rapid acceleration in the adoption of many of our preferred secular themes.” In addition, he mentioned, “The Real Estate industry is very compelling in this environment with the potential rise in inflation given the substantial increases in government spending both within the U.S. and the Eurozone. The Energy sector is facing supply/demand pressures with the unprecedented worldwide decrease in airline traffic and the resulting increase in supply.”
John Catsimatidis, Chairman & CEO – Red Apple Group, stated: “Congratulations to the Greek Government for swift and effective action against the Coronavirus.
Covid-19 has caused fundamental changes in Working, Shopping and Living.
New technology is changing the way of doing business in all sectors.
Food service had big disruptions in Restaurants and related business but
Food Consumption is up with a substantial increase in Supermarket Sales through the internet. Markets are driven by “Fear and Greed”. The virus created panic especially the first few weeks. There were always other “non-specific brands” or other food choices available for substitution.
Real Estate is affected by the use of new technology to address “work” limitations caused by Covid-19.
Working from home and moving out of the city will affect both office buildings and residential apts.
In the Oil Industry the world saw Russia and the Saudis bring down prices in order to hurt the US that had become oil-independent. Refinery companies like ours saw an opportunity to purchase crude oil at extremely low prices.
The Oil Sector after Covid-19 remains challenging for Energy companies due to the interruption of travel and the introduction of innovative energy solutions.
John’s response to the recovery of the US Economy:
“The safest place to invest is America. I am not afraid of huge deficits. Between the choice of investing in the three big economies USA, Europe and China I am trusting the USA and its currency.
I am optimistic that the country will recover fast but the NYC recovery will be slower”.
Investing in Greece:
Positive things are happening in Greece with the new government.
Mitsotakis is a highly educated, business person, that understands what the market needs to attract investors.
I love Greece, as I was born there and I will be happy to invest along with Dean Metropoulos and John Calamos as soon as we find a good deal.
When asked, John said he is considering running for Mayor of New York but he hasn’t made a decision yet.”
Mr. Dean Metropoulos, Founder and CEO – Metropoulos & Co., stated: “First, congratulations to Greece for its excellent response to Covid-19. The world must now be very vigilant as we open up our economies and interactions.
Economic challenges will persist with very high, global unemployment, the financial stress on many businesses, which will persist through 2021, and most importantly and not talked about, the future management of the unprecedented spending/investment by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve, the EU and ECB and other countries around the world, particularly given the unparalleled levels of deficits: GDP in many countries, like Greece.
On the positive side, the impressive response of pharma and university research, coupled with incredible technology, shows promise for early vaccine and other remedial drug solutions. These medical moves and the floods of government subsidies in the global economies, give financial markets the optimism that a return to “normal” is on the horizon, and generally markets are right.
Recent reactions around the world against major and growing income inequality, and human prejudices, also require a commitment from all of us to provide leadership and solutions, not just conversations of these painful issues. I know my family and I are committed.”
TOURISM: BRACING FOR RECOVERY
Angela Gerekou, President – Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO)
The President of Greek National Tourism Organization mentioned:
“The characteristics of Greek Tourism, can guarantee the attraction of all kind of visitors, focusing not only on the “sea ‘n sun” motive but also promoting the capabilities of special interest tourism forms, with regional specialization.
Our success in all the fields of tourism process in 2020, by giving priority to health safety, together with dynamic promotion to the international news media, and the social media and digital platforms, consists the big opportunity for Greek Tourism.
We promote Greece in a way that in the new global reality, the country will be at the first position of international tourism industry and arrivals, contributing decisively to the Greek economy.”
Nicholas A. Macropoulos, Deputy Mayor of Development, Enterprise & Investments – Municipality of Athens, estimated that the crisis can be turned into an opportunity, saying that Greece is a model country of how to restart of tourism industry. He believes that the actions of the Greek government will make this project a success. “Sustainable development is now an international issue that needs to be addressed in tourism as well. Entrepreneurship and respect for the environment are the parameters that lead to the future,” he noted in his speech.
THE EU’S RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS
Ioannis Vrailas, Ambassador – Permanent Representative of Greece to the European Union, stated: “The EU has tried its best to meet to meet the pandemic and its grave consequences with a coordinated and comprehensive strategy. Unprecedented steps have already been taken, but Leaders are now working to finalize, hopefully in the coming weeks, a deal on the basis of the latest Commission proposals, which amount to 1,85 trillion EUR, of which 500 billion in grants. This offers a real opportunity for Greece to radically reform and improve its economic model. Credible, workable and bankable projects will be needed, and the role of the private sector will be key.”