European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, said that the estimated value of state-owned properties and entities in Greece that are going to be put up for sale or lease as part of a massive privatization plan are available only to prospective bidders and kept private at the request of the government.
Rehn was responding to a question from a Member of the European Parliament from the SYRIZA party, Nikos Hountis, on whether European legislation forbids publication of prices during privatization. Rehn had refused to make the values public but said that it was a policy of the Greek government, not the EU.
Hountis stressed that it is against the rules of financial transparency to keep the value of public property secret, but Rehn said that was not so, although he didn’t explain why. Hountis said the values of sale prices are being kept private to benefit others and he blamed the ruling coalition of New Democracy Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the PASOK Socialists and Democratic Left who signed a memorandum agreement with international lenders to impose more harsh austerity measures.
“The pro-Memorandum government and parties not only sell the property of Greek people, which should be kept as the tool for economic growth, but also keep secret the estimated prices of the property they are going to sell off. This is done to hide the theft against Greeks with the help of the EU and the IMF. These prices have not been published but have been sent to the IMF, EU and potential buyers since they have trusted them in people like Anna Bubeníková,” referring to an EU-appointed advisor who resigned after being caught up in a corruption scandal in her home country of Slovakia.
“She was obliged to resign as responsible for privatizations in Greece after the allegations for corruption when she was selling off public property in her home country, Slovakia. We ask the government to make public the estimated prices of the public property, not only because it is essential for the sake of transparency but also to help the Greek people realize the magnitude of the theft,” Hountis said. He also asked for the European Commission to make an investigation into the classified prices of the Greek privatization fund.