The Greek business community watched on Monday the official handover ceremony at the Ministry for Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy with a mixture of trepidation and relief, after a mini-cabinet reshuffle announced over the weekend brought in Panos Skourletis to replace leftist hardliner Panayiotis Lafazanis at the ministry’s helm.
Skourletis will have to restore the ministry’s severely harmed communication with the broadest part of the economy, ranging from the primary sector and manufacturing to energy and the environment, as business leaders accuse Lafazanis of violating almost every code of practice in the approximately six months of his tenure. They say, for example, that throughout that period he refused to meet with representatives of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) or with the country’s major energy groups. Instead he turned his energies to meetings ostensibly meant to reorganize the country’s production, though these were with employees’ unions (sometimes of defunct companies) and small investors in renewable energy sources.
“We should have been less tolerant,” an official at one of the country’s major business groups told Kathimerini in regard to Lafazanis’s overall attitude during this crucial period for the country and its economy.
On the key issues of energy, Skourletis, however, has defended state ownership of Public Power Corporation and its subsidiaries, called for caution in hydrocarbon exploration and said that a plan for a Russian natural gas pipeline through Greece is “a great achievement” – all issues associated with Lafazanis’s presence at the ministry.
“For us, defending the state character of PPC and all its companies remains an issue of strategic significance,” stated Skourletis. He added that “we will have to try to set in motion some mature investment packages to bring a different note to the negative, recessionary situation that will stem directly from the implementation of the agreement [between the government and the country’s creditors].”