NEWS

Pigeon steps on closed professions

Dozens of closed professions that were to open on July 2 essentially remain closed to competition as the proposed reforms are still on paper, Kathimerini has learned.

A series of presidential decrees have yet to be issued and a slew of ministerial decisions have yet to be signed, according to sources that also cited other obstacles including extended transitional periods.

In its latest report, the European Commission acknowledged that ?steps have been taken? toward the liberalization of closed professions, but said ?reforms remain incomplete.?

Critics accuse the government of taking just enough action to appease foreign creditors but not too much, fearing the vehement protests of various sectors.

Already, taxi drivers have reacted to plans to open up their sector, staging a 24-hour strike last Wednesday.

Taxi drivers are just one of dozens of sectors that Greece is under pressure to fully liberalize by the beginning of next year. By the end of this month, the government must issue a final list of professions to be liberalized. These include lawyers and engineers, who object to plans to abolish their minimum set fees, notaries, who have been told they must cut their average fees in half, pharmacists, who object to working on Saturdays, and on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and truck drivers, who are to face competition from newcomers relieved of paying high license fees by 2013.

In his report for 2009, the country?s general inspector of public administration, Leandros Rakintzis, noted that the high cost of procuring licenses – ranging from 94,000 euros to 192,000 euros – has kept aspiring truck drivers out of the market.