PASOK plays down hiring slip-up

PASOK was forced yesterday to defend an embarrassing decision to sack a Finance Ministry general secretary just hours after appointing him because it emerged he had posted disparaging comments about the government when it was voted to power in October. It was announced late Tuesday that economist Andreas Koutoupis, a member of the New Democracy-affiliated DAKE union, would not be taking up the post in charge of public enterprises and organizations at the ministry. Koutoupis had been appointed via the highly publicized system adopted by the government at the behest of Prime Minister George Papandreou, which, in a first for Greece, saw applicants submit their particulars online. The candidates were subsequently sorted into short lists for the 88 ministry positions and then interviewed by government officials. It was revealed that Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had spoken to Koutoupis twice before the bureaucrat was appointed. During the process, government officials had not noticed posts by Koutoupis on his page on the social networking website Facebook, which derided PASOK after it came to power. «With PASOK, everything will be transparent and we will all be able to make money,» he wrote. «This is the start of a period when some will be able to strike it rich. Crooks will be rubbing their hands.» Koutoupis’s comments came to light only after they were published on a blog. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said the fact that Koutoupis was hired and then fired was evidence of how «transparent and straightforward» the process was. The backtracking, however, was not received well by some PASOK members. Giorgos Panagiotakopoulos, who recently came second in an election for party secretary, said the party was being «dragged through the mud» and called for «the experimentations» to stop. Meanwhile, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras indicated that he had no interest in joining forces with the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) to force early elections in March over the re-election of President Karolos Papoulias.

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