Samaras pledges to oversee Greece’s public sector reform

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has told journalist that he will personally monitor the overhaul of Greece?s civil service, including the evaluation of personnel.

Speaking after a meeting between ministers and the premier at the Administrative Reform Ministry, Samaras said he will write to all the members of his government to stress the importance of improving Greece?s public administration.

The premier said the aim will to improve service and reducing bureaucracy as well as saving money.

Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis said that the government?s aim is to reduce by about 30 percent the number of civil service departments. He said that he would rely on the groundwork that has been laid by Greece?s work with the European Union Task Force, which has been helping provide technical assistance on a number of structural reforms.

Manitakis said the final plan for public administration reform would be presented in September.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was also present at Friday?s meeting. He is spearheading the government?s drive to find enough savings for 2013 and 2014 to satisfy Greece?s lenders.

With inspectors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika, due back in Athens on July 24, Stournaras met with the ministers of defense, interior, administrative reform, development, education, culture, health, justice and labor on Thursday to discuss where the government could find the 11.5 billion euros requested by the lenders.

Sources said that about 7.5 billion euros would come from the state budget, while 3 billion would be from social transfers and 2 billion would be saved from changes to the structure of the central administration.

The biggest savings, more than 1 billion euros respectively, are due to come from costcutting at local authorities and central government spending. The latter will involve greater use of cheaper, generic drugs, so that by 2014 they make up 70 percent of all the medicines prescribed in Greece.

There are also plans to cut all pensions above 1,500 euros by 10 percent. This will save 600 million euros a year. Auxiliary pensions will also be limited so retirees can earn no more than 2,400 euros per month from the basic and supplementary packages they receive. This will save roughly 1 billion euros.

Stournaras, who said no more cuts apart from the 3 billion euros already agreed would be needed this year, is due to meet with the ministers again on Monday to discuss the cuts, before they are finalized on Wednesday.

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