The building of HELEXPO, included in the first wave of mergers of state-owned enterprises
The government is starting the closure and merger of state agencies and enterprises, as in the coming days it will announce the first wave, including 20 state structures. The goal is to send a clear signal to partners and creditors that the country is determined to implement administrative reforms. These measures will result in savings from operating costs, with no staff cuts, but just transfers of employees, assured members of the government. The basic plan foresees the merger of similar institutions and limitation of structures, scattered throughout the country.
The second wave will be announced by the end of August, and it includes over 200 state structures, which will be closed or merged with others, as according to sources, 258 agencies and businesses are mentioned. It is estimated that over 4000 employees will be transferred. The procedure is performed under the supervision of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is in charge of the Executive Council for Administrative Reform.
Speeding up procedures
According to sources, the supervisory Troika insists that the procedures be accelerated, so that the fiscal adjustment programme could come into rhythm. Employees, who are considered to be unnecessary in the closed or merged institutions, will not be discharged, but will be transferred to other positions in the public sector, where workforce is needed, said yesterday Minister of Administrative Reform Antonis Manitakis and his deputy Manousos Voloudakis. Minister Manitakis said that the ratio of appointments/lay-offs will be fully implemented, as defined at 1:5 for the narrow public sector and at 1:10 for the structural state enterprises.
The merger and closure of the first 20 institutions will soon be implemented by a legal act of the Greek Parliament. At the same time, the Special Service for Strategic Planning at the Ministry of Administrative Reform is progressing with the evaluation of public services and institutions, aimed at reporting which are to be closed or merged. As Deputy Minister of Administrative Reform Voloudakis pointed, the evaluation of institutions is based primarily on one criterion - the value of services in comparison with the benefits for citizens. "We are making the state more cost-effective, and the most important thing is, that no services provided to citizens are lost, but are transferred as jurisdiction either to the central administration, or the institution with which the merger is undertaken", said Voloudakis in a radio interview.
New institutional framework to avoid staff cuts
The government is investigating the options for changes in the institutional framework in order to avoid lay-offs and for the implementation of the so-called "labour reserve" for excess employees. This issue is an obstacle for the implementation of the programme, because, as applied laws of the Memorandum foresee, in the event of a merger of institutions, excess employees are included in the "labour reserve" for one year and receive 60% of their payments, and are then fired.
As the Minister of Administrative Reform said, all the necessary legislative regulations to avoid lay-offs of employees will be made. But he said that it is a matter of negotiations with the Troika as to which employees should be included in the rate resignation/appointment, making it clear that the government will insist that the final number of discharged include employees whose labour agreements are not renewed.
In the coming days the evaluation report of the Ministry of Administrative Reform is expected to be released, containing a description and evaluation of its administrative units, which serve as a "model" for the rest of the ministries. The Central Coordination Group for the evaluation of the ministries will be based in the Ministry of Finance, and next week Evaluation Committees will be set up in all ministries.
According to sources, in the coming days the merger of related businesses will be announced, and it will start from the export sector: the International Thessaloniki Exhibition City Centre HELEXPO and the Greek Export Promotion Agency will be incorporated into one structure based in Thessaloniki. The market-places agencies in Athens and Thessaloniki will be merged. The Credit Management Department for Archaeological Development Services to the Ministry of Culture will be merged with the Fund of Archaeological Resources and Expropriation. At the same time, the merger of departments in the Ministry of Justice, dealing with the protection of minors, will be announced. They will be limited to 13, equal to the number of prefectures, and the 28 services for the management of protected areas.