DEKO debt reshuffle on the cards

The Finance Ministry is looking into handing over the management of accounts owed by state-controlled companies (DEKO) to the public debt agency as a way of trimming interest expenses on the 10-billion-euro amount. Sources said that the ministry could pass the responsibility of DEKO debt management onto the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA), which currently handles the government’s massive large public debt by issuing state bonds. Refinancing loans could result in the government obtaining more favorable credit terms and lowering interest expenses, a source said. Currently, each DEKO company manages its own debts. One of the government firms with the largest debt is the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE). OSE’s debt amounts to 5.2 billion euros and requires annual repayment fees of 500 million euros. Sources added that a further reshuffle of government-related debts could also involve passing onto the PDMA the management of military loans. Sources said the ministry is also looking into turning over the management of DEKO assets to a single manager. Public company assets are currently undermanaged, resulting in a loss of funds for the firms and, ultimately, consumers. Most of their assets consist of real estate investments. Modern management techniques would involve introducing into the local property market technical know-how that is currently only available in other countries, sources added. The shift in the management of DEKO finances is part of the conservative government’s broader economic reform process. Changes to the legal status of employees is also likely to follow at some stage as the Finance Ministry tries to make DEKOs more efficient and more attractive to possible foreign investors.

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