Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras suggested in an interview on Thursday that Greece’s privatization program may go ahead and that state sell-off fund (TAIPED) might not be abolished, showing signs of a shift in the government stance from comments in previous weeks by ministers indicating that the sale of assets would be abandoned. Tsipras even described the price offered by German airport operator Fraport for the running of Greek regional airports as “fair.”
Speaking to German weekly magazine Stern, Tsipras insisted, however, that he is opposed to the way sell-offs have been conducted in recent years, saying this is “not privatisation but an unbridled buy-out of state property to friends of the system.”
He added that against an original estimate for revenues of 50 billion euros, less then 5 billion has been collected to date.
“You can’t rescue a country with 5 billion euros,” said Tsipras.
Asked whether TAIPED will be shut down, Tsipras did not rule out its continued operation, saying “we will see.” However, he added, it is his belief that the state should continue to have control of the economy’s drivers.
“We want the state to control key sectors of the Greek economy so that we can reap the benefits,” Tsipras said.
The prime minister added that the 1 billion euros being offered by German firm Fraport for the operation of 14 Greek regional airports is “fair.” But, he said, “airports are a part of our tourism industry. That’s how Greece earns its livelihood. It is something we also need to examine.”
Tsipras’s comments come as a significant departure from the positions expressed by the ministers of Economy Nikos Stathakis and Infrastructures Christos Spirtzis, who had suggested in the past that the sell-off of the 14 airports may be cancelled after they questioned the framework of the deal. Although the prime minister did not appear fully supportive of the agreement with the German firm, it is clear that he has examined the terms, suggesting that it may ultimately go ahead.