Court ends PPC workers? benefit

Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees and pensioners who have enjoyed 80 percent discounts on their energy bills for the last few decades may lose this privilege following a legal ruling prompted by a complaint filed by a public sector watchdog.

Kathimerini understands that the state?s legal council ruled that the discount should be treated as part of the employees? and pensioners? income and therefore taxed. Some 22,000 PPC staff members and 15,000 retirees currently enjoy the generous discount. It is estimated to cost the company some 35 million euros per year.

Public administration inspector Leandros Rakintzis had asked for the court to rule on the matter. ?From this point on, the discount on electricity bills for PPC staff is considered extra income that has to be taxed,? he told Kathimerini. ?There can be no such benefits.?

Rakintzis has been engaged in a battle with PPC?s main workers? union, GENOP, for the last couple of years after attempting to uncover graft and questionable privileges.

Following an investigation by Rakintzis, officials from PPC and GENOP were charged in connection to the use of some 30 million euros of funding the company gave to the labor group. In April two prosecutors issued charges of breach of faith and fraud against officials who were in charge of PPC and GENOP between 1999 and 2010

In his report last year, Rakintzis indicated that GENOP received illegal funding from PPC, that proper records were not kept for how some of the money was spent, and that GENOP paid over the odds for some of its expenses, including travel and restaurant bills.

With regard to the electricity bill discounts, Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had announced at the beginning of the year that PPC would put an end to them. This prompted and angry reaction from GENOP. Employees have been entitled to cheaper electricity since 1961.