Deputy development minister and PM’s aide resigns

Haris Paboukis, the alternate regional development minister and a close aide of Prime Minister George Papandreou, has tendered his resignation after failing to convince the premier to re-establish a separate merchant marine ministry.

“For two months I have tried to re-establish a sector vital to the nation,» Pamboukis said in his letter to Papandreou. «My decision to resign is irrevocable.”

Paboukis argued that shipping, which accounts for about a fifth of the Greek economy, has a vital role to play in encouraging growth. Greece has been in recession for three years.

Paboukis said in an interview earlier this week that there was an ?absolute demand? for the Merchant Marine Ministry to operate again as a separate department.

PASOK incorporated the ministry into other departments when it came to power in 2009 but Paboukis said that ?everybody? supported the idea of re-establishing the ministry and giving it responsibility over the coast guard, which currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Citizens? Protection Ministry.

In his resignation letter, the departing minister also fired a broadside at the government?s broader handling of the economic crisis. ?My participation in the country?s politics during this period was driven only by my desire to help overcome the crisis? even when I did not agree with all the decisions that were taken.

Paboukis had earlier served as minister of state, where he was given the task of attracting foreign investment to Greece. He was moved from that post in the summer reshuffle after failing to deliver any significant results.

Paboukis entered politics in 1996 as an adviser to Papandreou, who was then foreign minister. The two became close associates and his departure is seen as a personal blow to Papandreou.

Paboukis appeared to garner less respect within PASOK as a result of not having risen through the party ranks or served as an MP.

In a brief statement, government spokesman Ilias Mosialos said the prime minister accepted Paboukis’s resignation and thanked him for his service.