"It is quite possible that waste will appear again in the streets because if companies withdraw, there will be no equipment and staff and anything will be possible. We owe 65 million euro to the two companies, serving Attica. Our budget is 80 million per year and our debts are 100 million euro," the district governor of the Attica region Yiannis Sgouros stated at the annual forum on "Sustainable Solid Waste Management" held in Athens this week. Greece along with Bulgaria and two other countries of the former Eastern Bloc of Europe are at the bottom of the scale of sustainable waste management. Six years ago, the European Commission severely penalized Greece for the 66 illegal dumps in the country that did not meet any criteria of the European Union standards. The penalties, however, did not solve the problem and in 2012, the country has again dozens of illegal dumps and no funds to manage or modernize them.
Bad management of not only waste, but also of the funds allocated for the development of this activity are the basis of a new crisis in the sector of cleanness. The streets of Athens are once again threatened to be covered with waste since the companies responsible for the cleanness of the city have not been paid for the services rendered for more than two months now. This has become clear after the district governor of the Attica region Yiannis Sgouros stated that municipalities have been deeply indebted and redirected the funds from the waste fee collected with electricity bills for the repayment of other debts. As a rule, the Public Power Corporation DEI transfers 25 million euro to the accounts of municipalities for the payment of services related to waste management. GRReporter contacted the district authorities, which responded that the money has not been transferred since the beginning of the year. Currently, Attica municipality is availing only about two million that will be hardly enough to cover staff salaries and basic operating costs over the next two months.
At the end of 2011, the liabilities to companies responsible for the cleanness were 73 million euro. Now, they exceed 83 million euro and the amount will continue to grow. Beyond these liabilities, there are 37 million euro, which are the subject of a dispute between the local government organization and private individuals. Another 11 million are blocked in Emporiki Bank due to seizures of private owners. In other words, the funds for the waste management in the capital district are in poor condition. The liabilities are beyond the abilities of municipal budgets; the revenue from the waste fee is not used for what it should be used. In addition, Sgouros' office confirmed that subcontractors, which were not selected through a competition as should be done with municipal and government procurement, have been providing cleaning services.
To correct the mistakes of the past, Sgouros required the immediate assistance of the government. He insisted on the regulation of the cost-benefit relationship, so that the fees imposed for a specific purpose be used for what they are intended. Moreover, he called for clear processes in assigning municipal activities to private owners, so that there is transparency and clarity. Last but not least, Sgouros insisted that the government should take a stand on how to identify the new regulated dumps in the country so as to avoid the "Keratea" phenomenon. A small civil war between the police and local citizens broke out there, when the environment ministry announced it would build the new waste factory treatment there. After almost four months of clashes between local people and riot forces, the plan for the construction of the modernized metropolitan dump in Keratea was withdrawn.