Holdups at ministries to be solved this week

The government will attempt this week to finalize the appointment of general secretaries to ministries and decide where various departments will end up – after some ministries were disbanded or unified – as these assignments are holding up work. Prime Minister George Papandreou surprised many people by declaring that applications for the positions of 88 general and special secretaries at ministries and regional authorities would be accepted online. Usually the position of general secretary goes to people close to the relevant ministers. Papandreou’s decision to shun this approach, as well as to use a more transparent method by harnessing technology, has meant that only one appointment has been made so far. Sources said that short lists of candidates have been created for each ministry. A final decision is expected this week, which will come as a relief to many, as general secretaries tend to most of the coordination work in government departments and little effective work gets done without them. This process has not come without some friction within the government, as some ministers have complained to Papandreou that it will be difficult for them to work with people whom they do not know they can trust. Papandreou is also set to approve this week the reassignment of various government departments following his decision to trim down and alter some of the ministries that operated under New Democracy. In the main redistribution of duties, the disbandment of the former Merchant Marine Ministry means the Economy Ministry will take over responsibility for shipping and ports, the Infrastructure Ministry will look after ferry links to remote islands and the Citizens’ Protection Ministry will be in charge of the coast guard.