>> Tuesday, December 27, 2016 – Alexis Tsipras, Christmas on Symi, Greek taxes, tourism on Symi, VAT
|A smart bow in Chorio.|
|Wind on the water in Pedi. There is a gale warning today as it is a Force 8.|
|White horse galloping across the sea from Nimborio bay. There is a strong north-westerly wind blowing and it is just above freezing.|
|The sunny side of the harbour. The houses across on the shady side get little or no direct sunlight at this time of the year and are very cold indeed.|
|Wild clematis climbing high in the everygreen holly oaks.|
|Pomegranates are a popular motif in this part of the world, symbolising fertility and prosperity. These plastic ones are stuck onto laurel branches for decorative purposes. The grocers have lots of real ones.|
After heavy rain on Friday and showers on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day dawned bright, clear and cold. We woke to church bells followed by carols broadcast over the town's public address system to put everyone in a festive mood. 26 December is a holiday in Greece, not because it is Boxing Day but because it is a day honouring the Virgin Mary for giving birth to Jesus. A nice tradition that has nothing to do with manic shopping or camping outside department stores to be the first to grab sales bargains.
Rain is forecast again for Wednesday and Thursday this week and temperatures will stay low with strong winds. We can expect ice on the puddles, particularly in areas exposed to the north wind. The snow over on the Turkish mountains is now clearly visible from the top of the island.
Something that is a cause for celebration and some relief in the border islands is that the government has announced that our VAT rate will stay as is for another year, despite outside pressure from the country's lenders to remove the VAT concessions for the small and remote islands. These concessions were brought in many decades ago to compensate for the high costs of shipping goods to these out of the way places and encourage people to stay on the islands. VAT on Symi will remain at 17% instead of going up to 24% as is the case on Rhodes. We do, however, pay 24% on many services that come from the main land or are country wide and the special taxes on certain things like mobile telephony, television, wine, coffee (a new one that is coming in soon) and so on still affect us.
The reason for retaining the concession for islands like Symi, Samos, Lesbos etcetera is that the economy on these islands has been hard hit by the refugee crisis and an exceptionally bad tourist season so raising the cost of living still further will cause even more hardship and possible depopulation. Many people are already struggling and many small business have gone under. The prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, made his announcement while visiting our volcanic neighbour, Nissyros recently. He also gave pensioners a Christmas bonus of 300 euros each, by way of compensation for the fact that their monthly pensions have been cut repeatedly in recent years. This week we must also all remember to pay the annual taxes on our vehicles. Sometimes the deadline for this is extended to mid-January but one cannot count on it so best to play safe and pay now as if it goes beyond the deadline one has to pay double - plus the added expense of a day trip to Rhodes to the tax office to pay the fine.
On that cheerful note I shall leave you until Friday!
Have a good week.