NEWS

Civil service seen shrinking by a third

The civil service will be reduced by about a third over the months to come, according to the government's plans for streamlining the public sector as part of its efforts to cut spending, sources told Sunday's Kathimerini. The government has already conducted a census of civil servants and Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis has asked each department to evaluate its personnel but the merger of various bodies and the transfer of staff is expected to have an immediate impact on the size of the public sector. Ultimately, staff numbers will drop by 30 percent, the government believes. For example, the Finance Ministry is working on a plan to merge or shut down some 100 tax offices, which will lead to 5,000 to 6,000 civil servants being moved to other positions. Prime Minister George Papandreou has said that he does not want any public sector workers to lose their jobs after having their wages and benefits slashed this year. It is expected that 25,000 to 50,000 of some 770,000 bureaucrats will be moved to other positions. However, the policy of transferring employees to other departments is expected to lead to some of them leaving the civil service either because they will have to continue on a much lower wage or because they intend to retire or pursue other careers. However, the closing down of some bodies - for instance 30 of about 60 organizations that operate under the auspices of the Culture Ministry - could leave some civil servants out of a job. At the Agricultural Ministry, the number of organizations it oversees will be reduced from 17 to five. Ragousis has asked for information on the staff employed by each ministry and department to be collected and sent to him by February 10, so the government can draw up its plans for transferring staff and overhauling the public sector.

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