Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis has admitted in an interview with Kathimerini that the government’s austerity package foresees the suspension of 15,000 civil servants, insisting however that these should not be permanent layoffs, as demanded by the troika.

Expressing a stance that could cause friction if adopted in talks with troika envoys next week and could even prompt a mini crisis in the government, Manitakis said that civil servants could not be laid off permanently “arbitrarily and without legal procedures,” noting that no European state has taken such action.

“I understand that the troika, by broaching the issue of layoffs, wants to send a message, but unfortunately that message confuses a public relations exercise with fiscal targets and is of doubtful political effectiveness,” the minister said.

He also queried the effectiveness of such tactics. “There are no criteria nor reasons demonstrating the fiscal benefit of layoffs,” he said, adding that Greece was on target to meet its pledges to creditors to reduce the number of staff in the civil service by 150,000 by 2015 through attrition. The government has also introduced a new system of one hiring for every 10 departures from the public sector. Insisting on permanent layoffs in addition to this would not only be an “institutionally arbitrary and unsubstantiated proposal” but it would undermine a major effort being undertaken to radically overhaul the public sector, Manitakis said.

This overhaul is to include an evaluation process that aims to weed out civil servants who have abused their office or are found to be incompetent. Source: Kathimerini