Gov’t targets watchdog’s leaders

Gov’t targets watchdog’s leaders

The government is attempting to unseat the leadership of the country’s independent watchdog for competition by way of tailor-made regulations.

The clauses in question are included in a law amendment tabled on Wednesday by Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in a draft law drawn up by the Justice Ministry. Following a storm of protests in Parliament the amendment was withdrawn on the pretext that it was not submitted in time. However, according to the Economy Ministry, the amendment will be submitted again on Friday without any changes to its substance.

According to the proposed regulations, should the spouse of the president, vice president or a board member of the Competition Commission be a deputy in the Greek or European Parliament or a cabinet member, this would represent a conflict of interest. This clause appears to directly target the vice president of the competition regulator, Dimitris Loukas, who is married to New Democracy deputy Niki Kerameos.

Loukas first became involved with the Competition Commission in 2009 before assuming the position of vice president in March 2012. His mandate is set to expire in mid-2017, but if the amendment is passed he will have to depart within a month.

It would also dictate an early departure for the commission’s director general, Dionysia Xirokosta, as her mandate would be reduced from four to just two years. Xirokosta has been serving in her post for 20 months, so in four months’ time she would have to depart too.

Although the amendment does not force the president of the commission to depart immediately, it is seen as indirectly leading to that conclusion too: It introduces a clause for the departure of the president and the vice president upon the completion of their 73rd year, although this does not concern the existing officials. Still, it puts pressure on president Dimitris Kyritsakis, who is 75, to depart before his mandate expires in December 2018.

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