Reforms of the rules governing the operation of kiosks that were included in the controversial omnibus bill passed by parliament ten days ago may mark the beginning of the end for ‘periptera’ – the ubiquitous kiosks that are as characteristically Greek as an iced coffee overlooking the Aegean.
The omnibus bill included the so called ‘OECD toolbox’ of market reforms demanded by Greece’s troika of lenders in exchange for the disbursement of a much-delayed loan tranche of about 11 billion euros.
Among the reforms were articles affecting the licensing and operation of kiosks. Now according to iefimerida.gr when an owner of a kiosk dies or retires his or her license will not be transferable or inherited meaning that the kiosk in question will simply cease to exist.
The crisis has already taken its toll on hundreds of kiosks. Higher taxes on tobacco products (which are most kiosks main source of profit) in particular have hit the sector hard causing many to shut for good. Speaking to the Ethnos newspaper Giorgos Doukas, the president of the trade union representing kiosk owners in Attica stated that a few years ago there were 17,500 kiosks in Greece whereas now there are only about 9,000.
In Athens an operation is already underway by the municipality to raze 300 permanently shuttered kiosks which block pavements and have fallen into disrepair, although the municipality reportedly says that the license for some of these will be put up for auction. Of the approximately 1000 kiosks in Athens it is believed that about 500 have shut for good. The action by the municipality has been condemned by representatives of kiosk owners in Athens.
Meanwhile Mr Doukas also warned that another measure included in the omnibus bill which allows tobacco to be sold in locations other than kiosks and dedicated tobacco shops will amount to the final blow for kiosks. “That measure was a crime,” he said.