Recent claims by members of the government that suggested large numbers of civil servants would lose their jobs because they had obtained work using forged degrees or had committed other offenses while working in the public sector were misleading, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told MPs on Tuesday.
Mitsotakis appeared before a parliamentary committee to discuss the details of legislation regarding the publication of government procurements online. However, much of the discussion was devoted to changes in the civil service, with Mitsotakis admitting that comments by Alternate Interior Minister Leonidas Grigorakos in August, suggesting that as many as one in 10 civil servants possessed fake degrees, were likely wide off the mark. “A reference was made to forged degrees and we have issued a circular for them to be checked again, but tracking them down is going to be difficult,” he said. “The checks will not have the expected results.”
The minister admitted that it was difficult to check the paperwork of some 650,000 civil servants. “We have seen that it is a time-consuming exercise,” added Mitsotakis. “There are various certificates and in many cases we lack the databases to check them against.”
Mitsotakis also conceded that the impression there were “armies” of civil servants that would also be dismissed for committing offenses while on the job was mistaken. “Some people have claimed that if they are checked, then, as if by magic, we will be able to meet the demands made by the troika,” Mitsotakis said, referring to the commitment made by Athens to fire 15,000 civil servants by the end of next year.
The minister said that about 2,100 civil servants had been checked following allegations that they broke the code of conduct. Of these, 223 have been fired after being found guilty and failing in their appeals. Another 960 have been suspended, pending the outcome of their disciplinary hearings.
Mitsotakis said that some 7,000 new civil servants would be hired this year and that more would be taken on in 2014 but within the limits of the hirings rule agreed with the troika, which allows one new public sector worker to be taken on after five have left.