* Troika official deeply disappointed by public sector cuts
* Under bailout, 150,000 public sector jobs to be lost
* Official says labour reserve strategy not rational
By Ingrid Melander
ATHENS, Dec 16 Greece must conduct a
proper overhaul of its inefficient public service rather than
simply making blind cuts, a top official from an international
inspection team said on Friday, adding that Athens was falling
behind on promised reforms.
The official from the International Monetary Fund, European
Union and European Central Bank "troika" was deeply critical of
the public sector cuts so far imposed by the Greek government as
it struggles to cut its crushing public debt.
"I want to know that there is a proper reform of the public
sector and that is not happening yet," the official, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
About ten thousand state workers have been put into a
so-called labour reserve, a special scheme that will lead to
redundancy, but many of those on the programme were close to
retirement in any case and amid the haste, little thought was
given to where the cuts would fall.
"The way it is implemented, in my view, is not rational,"
the official said. "They do horizontal cuts. This is not a
public sector reform. It is a brutal downsizing but it does not
Under the terms of the EU/IMF bailout that saved Greece from
bankruptcy last year, the country must reduce its public sector
workforce by 150,000 between 2010 and end-2015.
"They have to determine which units are superfluous, where
there are phantom units that have no task any longer, and these
people should be reallocated or sacked. There are other areas
that are understaffed," the official said.
The comments underline the pressures facing Prime Minister
Lucas Papademos, the former central banker appointed to succeed
Socialist George Papandreou last month and who is now racing to
secure a new international bailout deal.
Facing a fifth year of recession in 2012 and squeezed
between street protests and international creditors demanding
ever tougher austerity measures, Papademos has seen an initial
bout of public support crumble.
The troika team in Athens this week found significant
shortfalls in the pace of reform. Poul Thomsen, the IMF mission
chief for Greece, said on Wednesday taboos, including shutting
down state firms and cutting jobs, had to be considered.
In a blunt assessment this month, the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development said a "big bang" overhaul
"The current hierarchy is top heavy, with senior civil
servants sometimes in charge of 'ghost' departments," the report
said. "There is no effective structure of middle management.
Ministries are affected by organisational sprawl, redundant
structures and too many units."
It said the efforts of competent individuals willing to
implement reforms "are undermined or even nullified by the
behaviour and actions of others whose standards and values are
not the same."
Government efforts to cut the public sector payroll have
been held back by constitutional job protection guarantees for
state employees but the official said it should be possible to
make cuts even so.
"There are legal and constitutional constraints but if, on
the basis of a proper analysis, it is decided certain tasks
should be dismantled, the constitution allows people to be
sacked," the troika official said.