Greek government aims to raise €50 billion by 2015 via privatization—or 1/6th of its estimated 2011 $308 billion GDP (40% is public sector). Caught between the European financing bailout requirements, the general concerns of Greek citizens about losing their country’s treasured assets and the specific concerns of more well paid and unionized employees of state owned enterprises, Samara walks a tight rope to find cash.
The current plan appears to extend beyond some transfer of state owned assets like Hellenic Petroleum, the kind of company in power or mining industries that governments would typically consider for privatization. The plan, announced July 1, appears to focus on selling state owned real estate like the old Athens airport, or maybe even monuments and museums. Natural gas companies, water treatment plants and even the state-run-lottery and casinos are also under consideration for privatization.
Samara plan as of July 13
Background on state owned enterprises in Greece:
Comment from Dr. George Kaloudis, Center for European Studies, Harvard; Academic member of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER); Faculty Rivier College:
“Samaras as the leader of New Democracy, a conservative party, and under terrible pressure from the Troika, has adopted the neoliberal line of privatizing all state enterprises and that the market must determine much of everything. It is true that Greece, as so many other countries, is in need of reform and limiting the role of the state/government is necessary. It is also true that corruption has to be dealt with and the state bureaucracy must become far more efficient. BUT privatizing everything and allowing the market to play such a significant role is not the answer. There has to be some balance. To a person far removed from the daily lives of Greeks the answers are easy and simple. To the average person in Greece, life has become very difficult and the prospects for a better life for their children are not good – to say the least.”