Police transfers to seal troika deal

Some 4,000 officers to be moved from municipal to main force and help meet target for labor mobility scheme

The government and troika officials appeared to be edging close to a deal on Thursday as sources revealed that Greek authorities had found a way to make good on a pledge to induct 12,500 civil servants into a mobility scheme – by transferring some 4,000 municipal police officers into the ranks of the Greek Police (ELAS).

The streamlining of the civil service – through the mobility scheme and through layoffs – has been the key stumbling block in negotiations between the government and foreign envoys. But sources told Kathimerini that a breakthrough appeared likely as a proposal for the transfer of municipal police staff into the ranks of ELAS had been accepted in principle by the troika.

The initiative would also lead to the release of thousands of police officers from desk jobs and make up for shortfalls in active police units.

The troika’s demand for a total of 4,000 civil service layoffs by the end of this year – including some 2,600 employees of the state broadcaster, ERT, which was shut last month – was also discussed on Thursday during talks between the troika envoys and several ministers. One reservoir of potential sackings is the state’s defense companies, whose dire financial state was described in detail in Parliament on Thursday by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

Greece and the troika appear much closer to an agreement after Thursday’s talks between the country’s lenders and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The two sides are set to agree on the duration of labor mobility being reduced from 12 months to six or nine, the immediate closure or merger of public organizations and the inclusion of civil service job transfers in the mobility scheme.

“We will continue the discussion tomorrow and the day after, if necessary,” said Mitsotakis. “In any case, we will be ready by Monday.”

If the troika accepts civil servants being shifted to different departments as having been included in the mobility scheme, Mitsotakis is expected to be able to reach the troika’s target of 12,500 public sector workers without complications. About 2,000 public schoolteachers, for instance, are due to be moved to different positions.