by Vangelis Mandravelis
The latest bailout agreement between Athens and its creditors provides for state privatization fund TAIPED to be able to dismiss the management of public sector companies that fail to cooperate fully with the fund for the promotion of sell-offs.
The plan foresees a full assessment of the performance and cooperation of state corporations’ administrations by June, followed by the departure of those deemed inadequate by TAIPED. “To strengthen the governance of privatizations, TAIPED will assess the managers and board members of the companies in its portfolio and take all the appropriate measures for those members who do not perform or whose actions are not in line with TAIPED’s objectives regarding privatizations,” the agreement reads.
Behind this demand by the country’s creditors, market observers see a drive to “cleanse” the governing board of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), and particularly its president, Giorgos Anomeritis. The latter has repeatedly reacted against the sell-off process for the port’s operator and is believed to have stopped its implementation on a number of occasions. Another target is his counterpart at Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH), Stelios Angeloudis, who also opposes the privatization of the corporation he governs. It is therefore no wonder that Greece’s creditors have set the start of OLTH’s privatization as a prior action for the disbursement of one of the next bailout installments.
The prior actions demanded by the creditors as far as privatizations are concerned are the following:
* The publication of the invitation for expressions of interest regarding the sale of the majority stake in Thessaloniki Port Authority.
* TAIPED should appoint at least one member of its choice to the governing boards of the companies in its portfolio in which it has no presence as yet.
* Authorities should transfer a 17 percent stake, owned by the state, in Public Power Corporation (PPC) to TAIPED, as up until today only the voting rights had been transferred to the fund.
* The government must draft a list of the pending issues whose resolution is required for the privatization of key state assets.
* PPC should publish its invitation for expressions of interest regarding the privatization of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) – which has already been done.
* The government must table in Parliament the draft legislation for the privatization of the so-called “Small PPC” – i.e. the sale to the private sector of a section of PPC’s production capacity – which has also been done.
* A draft law should be tabled in Parliament that will improve TAIPED’s mode of governance and allow it to control its assets better. This has just been done too.
* Athens should take measures that will strengthen the regulatory authority for water.
Furthermore, according to the country’s creditors, a permanent working committee should be formed, comprising members of the General Secretariat for Real Estate, TAIPED and the prime minister’s office, which will convene every 15 days to examine outstanding issues in the privatizations program. The committee is expected to have the authority to apply pressure on any ministries which hamper the implementation of the regulations required for the promotion of the sell-off projects.