Money-sav­ing schemes hailed

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The merg­ing of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and cre­ation of re­gions to re­place pre­fec­tures has saved Greece more than a bil­lion eu­ros, the gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day as it un­veiled fur­ther cost-cut­ting mea­sures, this time in the health sec­tor.

In a letter to the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Yian­nis Ragousis, who over­saw the so­called Kal­likratis lo­cal gov­ern­ment pro­gram, said that the scrap­ping of 709 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ties, the merg­ing of 6,000 or­ga­ni­za­tions into 1,500 and the re­place­ment of 57 pre­fec­tures with 13 re­gions had re­duced gov­ern­ment spend­ing by 1.2 bil­lion eu­ros.

Ragousis coun­tered claims that lo­cal authorities are now un­der­funded. He said that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have a com­bined an­nual bud­get of 4 bil­lion eu­ros while re­gions re­ceive 670 mil­lion. The min­is­ter said that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ ex­penses run to 3.8 bil­lion eu­ros, 2.1 bil­lion of which is spent on wages, while re­gions are bud­geted to spend 582 mil­lion, 450 mil­lion of which will go on salaries.

Ragousis added that an ef­fort would be made to en­sure that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties pay off their debts, which stand at a com­bined to­tal of 1.9 bil­lion eu­ros and that strict checks would be made on their fi­nances.

Mean­while, as of yes­ter­day, five hos­pi­tals that had only been open to peo­ple in­sured with the IKA so­cial se­cu­rity fund were made part of the Na­tional Health Sys­tem and, there­fore, open to all. Health Min­is­ter An­dreas Lover­dos con­firmed the switchover, which makes four ex­tra hos­pi­tals in Athens and one in Thes­sa­loniki avail­able to all pa­tients.

The gov­ern­ment is also hop­ing that a sin­gle body, EOPYY, will soon start han­dling the man­age­ment of the day-to-day run­ning of the health sys­tem, in­clud­ing staffing and pro­cure­ment is­sues. This is ex­pected to lead to a fur­ther re­duc­tion in ex­penses.

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