Greece seeks more than 3 billion euros from privatization

08:35, June 03, 2010      

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The Greek government announced on Wednesday a plan on the privatizations of a series of state-owned companies in the framework of efforts to overcome a severe debt crisis.

Athens expects to raise more than 3 billion euros (3.66 billion U.S. dollars) over the next three years from the better use of public assets, Greek ministers stressed during a press conference after a cabinet meeting on that issue chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that the government seeks local and foreign investors as strategic partners in the sale of stakes of the railway service, the water and electricity power companies and the national telecommunication company.

Also on sale are stakes at the Post Office, the state betting company, casinos, regional airports and ports, and public real estate properties that remain idle after the 2004 Athens Olympics Games.

Surrounded by other cabinet members, Papaconstantinou stressed that Greece does not intend though to sell assets at very low prices.

Debt-ridden Greece needs funds to reduce drastically over the next three years a budget deficit that currently stands at 13.6 percent of GDP to less than three percent, as European partners ask for.

The country reached the brink of default this spring due to an acute economic crisis and received financial aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In return, Athens has to show positive results from the implementation of austerity measures and reforms as soon as possible. The privatization of state companies, such as the loss- making railways services company, is one of the terms included in the agreement reached in May on the activation of the EU-IMF safety net.

"This situation can simply not continue anymore," said Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Dimitris Reppas, noting that that railway service already has a debt of more than 10 billion euros.

Noting that the energy sector has a strategic role in the future of the national economy, Environment Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili added that the aim of the whole plan is the better use of public assets to serve the interests of citizens.

Source: Xinhua


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