NEWS

Municipalities at top of gripe list

Complaints submitted to the Greek Ombudsman last year rose by 15 percent, the majority of which were prompted by the practices of municipal and prefectural authorities. According to an annual report that was made public yesterday, 10,611 complaints were submitted to the Ombudsman in 2007, which represents a 15.8 percent increase compared to the previous year. Most grievances involved local government services, followed by complaints about the migration department that belongs to the Athens regional authority. A state service responsible for residency and work permits, the department is a key component in the implementation of the country’s migration policy. The department suffers from a lack of organization, underlined Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis, who presented the report. Kaminis also announced the instituting of a new position of Ombudsman assistant, which is aimed at protecting various minority groups from discrimination based on their race, sexual and religious beliefs. Of the 5,839 complaints investigated by the government appointed official, the majority (85 percent) were settled in favor of the individual while about 7 percent could not be resolved due to the inadequacy of relevant legislation. On several occasions, the Ombudsman took legal action against three municipalities, including Maroussi in northern Athens, for illegally erecting roadside billboards. Complaints were also filed against pension funds, as well as the Public Order and Finance ministries, added Kaminis.