(Greece) – The Greek government is launching a new fund called the Hellenic Company of Assets and Participations, which will take control of the country’s private assets for the next 99 years. In response to this new fund, labor unions in Greece are organizing a series of strikes and protests. The fund will be headed by the bailout creditors in response to the fact that privatizations is a requirement for the country’s third bailout.
Back at the beginning of the summer, the creditors approved the first round of payments for the first bailout after the Hellenikon Airport privatization deal was confirmed. The creditors have been saying that the privatization program hasn’t been moving fast enough. This new fund is an attempt to speed the process up.
The Greek Parliament will review the draft legislation late on Tuesday and if the legislation passes, it will place the state assets under the fund’s control. The Greek Finance Minister is planning to appoint most of the members to the executive board, but the bailout lenders will appoint the chairman.
Unions have already taken action this week by launching work stoppages and strikes at the state water company and other utilities. They are also calling for protests to take place in front of parliament on Tuesday before the vote. The GSEE union said, “It is inconceivable that utilities created to serve the public and provide basic affordable services will be sold off in this manner … We call on workers to use all means necessary to stop this crime against society.”
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakolotos has dismissed these claims. He said, “This new fund was the result of a compromise in negotiations … but it up to us, our government, to deliver a workable result.We are not handing over sovereignty or mortgaging the future. The fund is under the control of the Greek Finance Ministry. … And passing assets to this fund does not mean that they will necessarily be privatized — at least not by this government.”