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Greek Politicians Still Ride in Luxury

High-ranking Greek politicians and ministers have refused an order from Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis to cut back on the use of luxury cars and are even using them for family or personal use, costing taxpayers 320 million euros, or $415 million a year, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The drive to reduce the number of officials entitled to use official cars and put a stop to the purchase and use of luxury vehicles with high maintenance costs, was launched under the previous administration’s Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis, but Manitakis has been unable to rein in their use.
During the initial efforts to cut back on costs, data show that in the first half of 2011 the number of government vehicles dropped to 172 from 279 from the same period in the previous year, the cost of maintenance and repairs dropped in 2010 by 69.5 percent to 47,680 euros from 156,300 euros a year earlier, and the cost of gas also went down by 67.1 percent in 2010 compared to 2009.
Kathimerini reported that that while progress has been made to reduce the cost of the official fleet, some 44,000 cars remain in circulation – down from 57,000 in 2006 – a number that remains unjustifiably high given the real needs of the civil service and as the government is set to increase the cost of public transportation at the same time it’s going to impose another round of harsh austerity measures.
Sources told Kathimerini that after assuming office in June, Manitakis issued a circular to all ministries demanding a reduction in their fleets and transportation costs but that he was ignored and instead received demands from high-ranking politicians they get bigger and more luxurious cars.
The paper said there is also evidence of widespread abuse of the perk by senior administrators and politicians, who use the official car service to accommodate family members or for activities that are not related to their work.
The government has also failed to curtail the use of state luxury cars for people who are no longer entitled to them as the ministry has failed to update the list of beneficiaries, which still includes the special secretary of the 2004 Athens Olympics and the Chairman of the Hellenic Bank of Industrial Development (ETVA), which was acquired by Piraeus Bank nearly a decade ago.

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