Greek privatisations will go ahead: outgoing economy minister
A major sell-off of Greek public assets promised as part of its huge international bailout will go ahead as planned, the outgoing economy minister said Wednesday, despite looming snap elections.
"The agreed arrangements have been agreed and will be applied," Georges Stathakis told reporters in answer to a question on the planned privatisation of Piraeus port, the national railway company and a string of other ports and airports.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned last week after his acceptance of an 86 billion euro ($96 billion) rescue package for Greece s stricken economy triggered a major rebellion within his radical left Syriza party. Elections are now likely to be held on September 20, just eight months after Syriza stormed to power on a wave of popular anger over tough austerity measures demanded by Greece s creditors in exchange for two previous bailouts.
Greece pledged to take on a major privatisation programme as part of the latest bailout, which also saw Tsipras agreeing to tax rises, spending cuts and sweeping economic reforms in exchange for the much-needed cash, incensing the Syriza rebels, who have now formed their own party. The privatisations are expected to raise some 50 billion euros by the end of 2017, half of which would be used to recapitalise Greek banks, whose cash reserves have been drained of billions of euros by anxious customers.
Upon coming to power, the Syriza government froze several privatisation projects that are now being relaunched, including the concession of more than a dozen key regional airports to Germany s Fraport-Slentel consortium in a deal worth 1.23 bil- lion euros. Greece s election date is to be officially announced by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos by the end of the week. Capital controls were imposed in early July in a bid to save Greece s financial system from collapse, but Stathakis said he expected these to be lifted "very soon". Restrictions on the amount people can withdraw from cash machines will be relaxed "if banks liquidity continues to improve", he added.