Le Monde, Tuesday 7 August 2012

 

Le Monde.fr with AFP | 07.08.2012 at 16:01 • Updated 07.08.2012 at 16:01 

Greece plans to adopt a law aimed at removing the obstacles which now stand in the way of privatization of public companies, the Minister of Finance, Yannis Stournaras, announced Monday. The conservative Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, the head of a Right-Left coalition government, “requested that the secretary-general of the  government draw up a bill that will comprise 77 administrative acts aimed at facilitating privatizations,” Mr. Stournaras said.

Following a meeting between Mr. Samaras and the heads of the two other parties in the coalition – Evangelos Venizelos, head of the socialist Pasok party, and Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left – on privatizations, Mr. Stournaras said that the bill would facilitate the sale of companies under the responsibility of the Ministries of Finance, Infrastructures and Energy to the private sector.

According to the Greek press agency (ANA, semi-official), among the first ten companies to be privatized are the old Athens airport (Hellinikon), the public lottery, the sports betting company Opap, the natural-gas distribution and management companies (Depa and Desfa, respectively), the former Olympic press site (IBC – International Broadcasting Center), and 48 pieces of property.

 

FOR THE OPPOSITION,  A “CRIME”  

Under pressure from the creditors, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose experts left Athens on Sunday after an audit of public finances, Greece must accelerate the privatizations, which are to bring the Greek State 19 billion € by 2015 to accelerate its debt reduction. The creditors have pointed several times to delays in the vast privatization program.

In addition to the agricultural bankATEbank, recently split in two and whose profitable part was acquired by the Bank of Piraeus for 95 million euros, the country must also sell its railways, the electricity company DEI, and its savings bank to private interests.

“Selling off public wealth at bargain prices, as the government did with ATEbank, deprives the Greek  economy of the tools needed for rebuilding the country, and constitutes an even greater crime than the horrible cuts in wages,” the radical Left SYRIZA, the main opposition party, said.

 

Athens searches for 4 billion in savings

Greece is now seeking approximately 4 billion euros in savings for 2013 and 2014, the Minister of Finance said Tuesday. According to him, negotiations are continuing with the Troika’s experts, who ended a first phase of discussions of the new measures with Greek leaders on Sunday.

The Troika’s experts, who are to return to Athens in early September, said on Sunday that “progress was made” in the discussions with the Greek leaders. According to the creditors, the measures are a necessary condition for the release in September of an installment of the EU-IMF loan of 31.5 billion euros from the second loan of 130 billion euros granted to the country in February.

Negotiations with the Troika will continue “until late August,” said Mr. Stournaras, who has not ruled out placing approximately 15,000 government workers on partial unemployment by the end of 2012.

 

tr. “Snake” Arbusto