Ministers given powers to close state agencies by decree

MPs back government proposal that will allow ministers make fundamental changes to the organisation of the public sector with no prior approval from parliament

(File photo: Reuters)

(File photo: Reuters)

MPs have backed legislation that allows ministers bypass parliament when merging or abolishing public-sector agencies and jobs by using presidential decrees.

All 52 coalition MPs present voted for the measure, with 39 MPs from the opposition parties voting against. Five MPs from former coalition partner Democratic Left abstained. 

The measure, added as a rider to a law on unauthorised building, will give ministers the power to set up, replace, merge or modify the organisational structure of ministries, state agencies and local authorities.

The changes will also permit ministers to set up new staff positions, abolish existing positions and transfer staff to other bodies.

The amendment essentially establishes presidential decrees as the standard method for organising and running the civil service and public-sector entities.

Although the amendment states that draft presidential decrees will require the approval of the Council of State, the country’s supreme administrative court, they will require no prior approval from parliament, leading opposition parties to accuse the government of a power grab.

The new powers come after the government was forced to seek subsequent parliamentary approval for its shuttering of the national broadcaster ERT in June.

Speaking in support of the amendment, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it marked the first comprehensive and concerted effort to organise government ministry structures.

He said that the next step would be to issue 17 presidential decrees clarifying how ministries are to be structured.

He accused Syriza of exaggerating the significance of the changes, noting that presidential decrees had been used to organise ministries in the past and that “the only thing that is changing is the final procedure for assessing the structures”.

The new measures as viewed by Eleftherotypia cartoonist Kostas Koufogiorgos

The new measures as viewed by Eleftherotypia cartoonist Kostas Koufogiorgos

 

Source: http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.politics&id=1332

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