NEWS

Ministries to be cut by a third

A group of 10 ministers met Wednesday to discuss a tough initiative aimed at streamlining the departments under their supervision by a third as part of a broader cost-cutting drive.

Most ministries will see their departments trimmed by between 30 and 36 percent, with all the corresponding cutbacks to personnel. The Development Ministry is to suffer the largest cuts, in the region of 46 percent, according to sources.

The meeting, chaired by Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas, was attended by Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, incoming Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, Transport and Networks Minister Makis Voridis, Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, Agricultural Development Minister Costas Skandalidis, Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou and government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis, who also serves as minister of state.

The remaining ministries, covering finance, defense, foreign affairs and citizens? protection, will not be affected by the initiative.

According to sources, it was agreed that a draft bill outlining the new, leaner structure of the various ministries would be submitted to Parliament before early general elections, which are expected to take place in late April or early May.

Ministry departments that are not absolutely crucial will be evaluated according to strict cost-benefit criteria while units comprising just two or three employees will be abolished or merged with other departments, sources revealed.

The overhaul is expected to lead to wide-scale redundancies, as any positions deemed to be surplus in the evaluation process are expected to be cut.

It remained unclear Wednesday just how many jobs were on the line. But sources indicated that hundreds of department managers will be demoted if their units cease to exist.

It appears that there is a lot of fat to cut. In the case of the Education Ministry alone, some 1,000 departments and units are said to have been created since the mid-1970s.