Ministers managing secret funds

The majority of government ministers have access to some 7 billion euros each year that are not recorded in Greece’s national budget but are kept in bank accounts which the ministers manage as they see fit, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The funds are allegedly derived from several legal sources, such as fines and payment for licenses issued by the ministries, but are not entered into Greece’s accounts. Sources said that the money is deposited into 60 bank accounts which belong to 13 of the 19 ministries. Ministers allegedly use some of the money to pay unrecorded bonuses to their staff, sources said. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has made it a key aim of his New Democracy government to reduce corruption in the public sector. It would be a serious setback for Karamanlis if lack of transparency is revealed in the handling of public finances. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis has informed Karamanlis about the existence of these accounts. Karamanlis told Alogoskoufis to end the practice, which began some 30 years ago and has been kept up by successive governments.