SEV sees election fever

The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) yesterday expressed concern that election-driven ploys in the runup to municipal elections in October could derail Greece’s budget and fiscal targets. SEV President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said it was clear that «Greece has entered the election period» as seen in various policy shifts presented by the government recently. He cited the government’s decision to amend the existing law on civil service hirings as a move «that worries SEV.» Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said recently that the present framework, whereby candidates for the civil service must go through the state selection board ASEP, will be upgraded and procedures speeded up. Adding substance to opposition party charges that the government plans to boost its electoral base prior to municipal elections in October, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Floridis last week said the State was no longer bound to a European Union requirement that it can only hire one new civil servant for every five that retire. He said the rule lost its validity following Greece’s accession to the eurozone last year. Tactics such as these could endanger Greece’s goals of a budget surplus and lower debt deficit, Kyriakopoulos warned. He said the electoral period was also holding up talks on social security reforms, with developments expected only after October. Nikos Analytis, SEV’s vice president, called for changes to the existing eight-hour workday, suggesting instead part-time work. «Perceptions change and the eight-hour workday is based on outdated concepts,» he said. He also bemoaned the low level of part-time work in Greece, the lowest in the eurozone, which could help to cut down on unemployment and also give a degree of flexibility to companies. Under strong international pressure, Belgrade adopted last month a law on cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal, and three suspects have since surrendered to the court. Another two were expected to do so tomorrow.