OASTH sets out on bumpy road

Out­go­ing board at Thes­sa­loniki trans­port firm has writ­ten to lenders and is poised to ap­peal against ouster

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

There was a chang­ing of the guard at the Thes­sa­loniki Ur­ban Trans­port Or­ga­ni­za­tion (OASTH) yes­ter­day but it ap­pears that the de­nun­ci­a­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­move the ex­ist­ing board and bring the firm un­der pub­lic con­trol isn’t go­ing to stop any­time soon.

Out­go­ing OASTH CEO Chris­tos Ste­fani­dis told Kathimerini that he and fel­low board mem­bers have writ­ten to Greece’s lenders, in­clud- ing the Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism, the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank, to ar­gue that the law paving the way for the changes at the trans­port or­ga­ni­za­tion is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The leg­is­la­tion was ap­proved by Par­lia­ment on July 31 but Ste­fani­dis ar­gues that it was not ac­com­pa­nied by the nec­es­sary re­port from the State Gen­eral Ac­count­ing Of­fice. Ac­cord­ing to Ste­fani­dis, the gov­ern­ment has not in­cluded in fi­nan­cial cal­cu­la­tions the planned pur­chase of 100 buses. The new law, the out­go­ing CEO ar­gues, also does not have a limit on the num­ber of hir­ings that can be made.

The de­part­ing board has in­formed the in­sti­tu­tions that it plans to plans to ap­peal to the Coun­cil of State. The ap­peal against the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the leg­is­la­tion, Law 4482/2017, is ex­pected to be lodged at Greece’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court to­day. The out­go­ing board mem­bers warn that if their ap­peal is suc­cess­ful, the gov­ern­ment will have to com­pen­sate them.

Ste­fani­dis and his col­leagues also plan to write to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s di­rec­torates gen­eral for com­pe­ti­tion and the in­ter­nal mar­ket.

Ste­fani­dis handed over con­trol at OASTH yes­ter­day to the new CEO ap­pointed by the gov­ern- ment, Ste­lios Pap­pas, who is the fa­ther of Dig­i­tal Pol­icy Min­is­ter Nikos Pap­pas. The Trans­port Min­istry said that Ste­lios Pap­pas will not re­ceive a salary for his work.

The for­mer CEO said that the ousted board has al­ready se­cured a pros­e­cu­tor’s order giv­ing them ac­cess to any doc­u­ments from OASTH that they need as part of their le­gal chal­lenge. Ste­fani­dis ex­pressed con­cerns that the doc­u­ments may be tam­pered with.

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