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Greek coalition wrestles with civil servant numbers ahead of troika visit

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held talks with Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis on Friday as the government wrestles with the troika-imposed target of placing 25,000 civil servants in a labor mobility scheme this year.

Representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are due in Athens on Monday to check on how Greece is progressing with the implementation of its latest round of austerity measures and structural reforms.

Reducing the number of civil servants is one of the key goals Athens has been set for this year but the government is concerned about confirming the number of public sector workers that will be fired after being inducted into the mobility scheme, which only guarantees them a salary for 12 months if they are not transferred to another position within the civil service.

The coalition still believes that it can at least meet the demands for downsizing in part by firing up to 7,000 civil servants that are yet to face disciplinary action for a range of alleged offenses.

Manitakis told reporters on Friday that his ministry has been given an “extensive” report on the matter by public sector inspectors and that action will be taken soon. He has in the past insisted that civil servants deemed to be corrupt, unproductive or incapable of doing their jobs would be removed.

“Everything that we have said so far stands,” Manitakis said yesterday. “We are looking to implement the steps we have described as soon as possible.”

However, Kathimerini understands that Samaras is less convinced than Manitakis that the government will be able to avoid sacking some civil servants who haven’t committed any offenses.

It is expected that after the latest round of meetings with troika officials, Samaras will finalize plans for a cabinet reshuffle. The prime minister is also waiting for PASOK to conduct its four-day congress, which starts at the end of this month.

It is still unclear how extensive the reshuffle will be but sources close to Samaras said the aim would be to remove ministers and deputy ministers unable to keep up with the pace of work needed and to replace staff at ministries where department chiefs have not cooperated effectively.

ekathimerini.com , Friday February 22, 2013 (22:01)  
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