New law for better disaster relief

A week after the heavy snowstorms that paralyzed large parts of Greece, the Interior Ministry yesterday unveiled details of new legislation aimed at improving the coordination and the means to fight natural disasters. These involve the procurement of materials, better coordination, spelling out the responsibilities of everyone involved, continually updating of operational plans, supervision, and punishment for those who fail in their tasks. The Interior Ministry will be sending its blueprint to all local and regional governments today in order to have their feedback before the Inner Cabinet discusses the legislation. Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis yesterday chaired a meeting of deputy ministers, local governors and regional governors from areas affected by the recent weather. «We want to get ideas from the experience of this wave of bad weather,» Skandalidis said. The meeting concluded that coordination was the weakest point in dealing with difficulties. That is why everyone involved will have his or her responsibilities spelled out, and the Interministerial Coordinating Body (ICB) will be upgraded and put into continual operation during crises. Each October, this body will present Parliament with an annual National Plan for dealing with natural disasters, accompanied by a budget from the General Secretariat for Civil Defense. The bill calls also for: Stricter penalties for those who violate ICB measures in times of crisis; measures such as demanding that all cars contain tire chains; drawing up operational plans for all types of disaster and preparing infrastructure to put them into effect. But Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece would only field contestants where «a respectable result» could be expected.

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