Greece sacks heads of privatisation agency

Greece’s new leftwing government has asked the heads of the state privatisation agency to resign after halting state asset sales agreed under the international bailout programme, the agency’s chief executive Paschalis Bouchoris said on Friday.

He said both he and Emmanuel Kondylis, chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), had been told to leave by Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, the minister responsible for overseeing state revenues.

“We were asked to resign immediately,” Bouchoris told Reuters. “She explained to us that the privatisation programme will be ended and so there was no reason for the agency to continue in its current form,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has already halted a string of major asset sales which had been planned as part of debt-cutting efforts agreed with its creditors in the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Privatisation had been meant to raise billions for Greece’s depleted state coffers but proceeds have been disappointing so far, amounting to no more than around 3 billion euros, a fraction of an initially targeted 22 billion euros.

Kondylis, appointed by the previous government of former centre-right Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in July last year, was the fifth head of the HRADF since the agency was launched under Greece’s first bailout accord in 2010.

The privatisation programme has aroused strong opposition in Greece where many saw it as a sell-off of national assets that would enrich foreign investors while costing thousands of jobs.

Days before last Sunday’s election, officials of Tsipras’ Syriza party said the privatisation agency would be scrapped altogether once they assumed power.