Tension within the government over public sector reform increased on Tuesday as Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hit out at fellow cabinet members and at PASOK in particular for questioning the evaluation of civil servants and plans to sack another 6,500 by the end of the year.
Speaking to Skai TV, Mitsotakis said the government could not risk going back on commitments it had made to its lenders.
“History teaches us that every time we have tried to renegotiate agreed targets we fell flat on our faces,” he said, adding a reference to the emergency property tax Greece had to introduce in 2011, when current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos was finance minister.
This barbed comment is an indication of the growing ill-feeling between government partners New Democracy and PASOK over the issue of public sector reform and prompted sources at the Socialist party to accuse Mitsotakis of “trying to cover up his own mistakes.”
PASOK has voiced opposition to Mitsotakis’s plans for the civil service evaluation scheme to result in 15 percent of bureaucrats working in each department being deemed as failing. This would lead to them being placed in a labor pool and transferred to other departments. Some could eventually lose their jobs.
“The evaluation should happen but using the same method as in the past,” said PASOK spokesman Dimitris Karydis. The Socialists argue that Mitsotakis’s system will lead to departments or services which are already short-staffed being deprived of more employees.
The minister, however, has the backing of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in his task. Samaras is keen for the government to meet its pledges to the troika, which is due back in Athens in September, so he can then begin discussions on debt relief and cutting taxes.
“The government is one entity and each minister has to leave behind the paradise of their own ministry and see the bigger picture,” Mitsotakis told Skai. “The implementation of the law is not voluntary. We have to all realize that the evaluation will proceed and that it has been approved by Parliament.”