Greece scraps industry sell-off

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The Independent Online
ATHENS - Greece's Socialist Prime Minister, Andreas Papandreou, pledged after being sworn in yesterday to overturn the privatisation programme which the conservatives had set in motion before losing Sunday's general election.

Mr Papandreou told a televised cabinet meeting that his first target would be to scrap all the 'anti-democratic' laws voted in by the previous parliament. He then gave immediate orders to his new hand- picked, old-guard cabinet, which was sworn in with him, to 'assess the damage' of three years of conservative rule.

He named his wife, Dimitra, 39, a former air hostess, as his chief of staff. He also appointed his son George from a previous marriage as a junior foreign minister, and a cousin of Dimitra, George Liani, to a similar post in the Culture Ministry. His personal physician, Dimitris Kremastinos, was appointed as Minister of Health.

The film actress Melina Mercouri returned to the Culture Ministry post she held in Mr Papandreou's last government, from where she waged an unsuccessful campaign to recover the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

Mr Papandreou, prime minister from 1981 to 1989, set out a list of enterprises which had been privatised, or were soon to be sold off, adding that bills were prepared to overturn the deals. 'I can mention the scrapping of the doomed law on the (Greek Telecommunications Organisation) OTE,' he said. OTE had been the backbone of the conservative government's ambitious privatisation plan and as much as dollars 1.5bn ( pounds 980m) in revenue was expected in this year's budget from the sale of 35 per cent of its shares to a strategic foreign investor.

With 171 seats in the 300-seat parliament, Mr Papandreou can easily pass legislation. The Socialists, who must submit their budget by 30 November, have not said how they will bridge the revenue gap created by cancelling the OTE sale.

Mr Papandreou said he would overturn legislation regarding the Urban Transport Company, a state firm that was dissolved and turned into a co-operative by the conservatives. The familiar blue city buses were mainly sold to their drivers. He said a deal struck by the conservatives to let Greece's former royal family keep land and houses would also be reversed.

Other cabinet appointments: Gerasimos Arsenis (Defence), Karolos Papoulias (Foreign), Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos (Interior), George Yennimatas (National Economy and Finance), Evangelos Yiannopoulos (Labour), George Kouvelakis (Justice), Dimitris Fatouros (Education and Religion), Constantine Triaridis (Macedonia and Thrace).