EU and IMF auditors continued talks with Greece on Friday, focussing on reform of the transport sector as part of efforts to stabilise the country’s finances and release another tranche of debt aid.
The Greek press agency Ana said the auditors met Transport Minister Yannis Ragoussis to discuss restructuring public transport, including the part privatisation of the national rail service.
After the closed door meeting, Ragoussis said he understood the need to “not give in to corporate demands,” referring to mass protests by angry taxi drivers opposed to deregulation of their industry.
On Friday’s meeting was delayed after a few dozen civil servants, protesting cuts in public services, occupied several ministries hoping to block entry to the auditors, whose green-light is needed to unblock EU-IMF bailout funds desperately needed in the next few weeks for Greece to stay solvent.
The auditor meetings are taking place just as the Greek parliament is about to debate a law deregulating the taxi sector, opening it to competition. The measure has provoked the anger of small taxi operators who fear the arrival of big business to their sector.
The conflict between government and taxi drivers has lasted for months while public transport work stoppages have regularly brought Athens to a near standstill.
The auditors left Athens suddenly on September 2 after noticing new spending discrepancies by the Greek government and disappointed in the lack of progress made to implement promised reform measures in return for its May 2010 bailout. ( from The Gulf Today )