Gov’t drag­ging its feet on EDIS

Trans­fer of state cor­po­ra­tions to hy­per­fund, which forms part of the re­view, is op­posed by sev­eral min­is­ters

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

The gov­ern­ment is keen to keep a tight grip on state cor­po­ra­tions, which is why the trans­fer of such com­pa­nies to the new hy­per­fund for state asset uti­liza­tion, of­fi­cially ti­tled Hel­lenic Hold­ings and Prop­er­ties Com­pany SA, has been al­lowed to drag on. The trans­fers are a part of the frame­work of the sec­ond re­view of the third Greek bailout pro­gram.

Greece’s cred­i­tors have said that the mon­i­tor­ing min­istries should not be al­lowed to in­ter­vene in the daily op­er­a­tions of the state cor­po­ra­tions, which do not face im­me­di­ate pri­va­ti­za­tion, but will be trans­ferred – as the bailout agree­ment dic­tates – to the Public Hold­ings Com­pany (EDIS), a sub­sidiary of the hy­per­fund.

The gov­ern­ment does not want to lose the tight con­trol it has on cor­po­ra­tions such as public trans­port com­pa­nies, Hel­lenic Post, the Athens and Thes­sa­loniki wa­ter com­pa­nies (EYDAP and EYATH) etc.

EDIS is sup­posed to re­ceive the sum to­tal of the state hold­ings in the cor­po­ra­tions, and the in­ner cab­i­net on eco­nomic pol­icy will con­vene on Mon­day to de­cide on the third batch of state com­pa­nies to be trans­ferred to EDIS – which has yet to be formed.

Uti­liza­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily mean sale of shares, but it cer­tainly in­volves more ef­fi­cient ad­min­is­tra­tion. Cru­cially, it also en­tails a change in the con­trol of the cor­po­ra­tions, as they would cease to be within the com­pe­tence of min­is­ters. This will con­sid­er­ably limit their ca­pac­ity to ap­point man­agers and staff at the com­pa­nies. That prospect has caused a con­sid­er­able re­ac­tion in the cab­i­net. For in­stance, In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port Min­is­ter Chris­tos Spirtzis has al­ready sent a let­ter to the in­ner cab­i­net ex­press­ing his op­po­si­tion to the trans­fer of the 25 per­cent stake in Athens International Air­port to 1.0786 EDIS. Econ­omy Min­is­ter Dim­itris Pa­padim­itriou voiced his own op­po­si­tion to the trans­fer of state as­sets of non-strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance, such as those in Cen­tral Markets and Fish­eries Or­ga­ni­za­tion (OKAA) and the Thes­sa­loniki Cen­tral Mar­ket.

De­spite hav­ing agreed with cred­i­tors on the asset trans­fer, the gov­ern­ment has not yet clar­i­fied the state’s re­la­tion­ship with the cor­po­ra­tions af­ter their shift to EDIS, which leaves their con­trol sta­tus in limbo.

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