10-16 November, 2013
By Basil A. Coronakis
e us hink or a momen wha would happen i, all o a sud-den, he deb o he French ranspor sysem, covering buses, rams, he mero, he RER and OP-ILE and he PAM nework or dis-abled people and so on, were all rans-erred o he governmen’s accouns. Afer all, he French ranspor sysem is heavily subsidised by he sae. Well, he disaser one can only imagine did no happen in France, and righly so, bu i did happen in Greece! Greeks and all oher European ciizens have he righ o know wha happened in Greece and why i happened. All o us in Europe have agreed o comply wih cerain erms and condiions called European Regula-ions and he ﬁrs o do so is, alas, he European Commission. Tereore, i public ranspor companies provide a service, because o a governmenal or European socio-economic policy, hen hese public companies mus be compensaed or subsidised or losses incurred as a resul o charging prices lower han wha hey would have oh-erwise charged. Tis compensaion or subsidy does no enail he ranser o heir deb o he counry’s public deb. Well, an answer has no ye been provided by he European Commis-sion as o why, afer wo decades o applying he common rules, Greece was suddenly in 2009-2010 reaed diﬀerenly rom France or any oher EU member sae. Looking ino he complexiy o he Eurosa crieria required o be ulﬁlled in order or a public company o be moved ino he public secor, i seems ha, in he case o Greece, he job was done wih a hasy disregard or normal procedures. Tere is an ap-paren breach o European Law in he applicaion o he so called 50% cri-erion deﬁned as he insiuional re-quiremen ha he revenue rom sales o producs or services o he public companies cover a leas he 50% o heir producion cos. By no rea-ing he above compensaion as “rev-enue rom sales” and a he same ime lumping commercial depreciaion o 100 years ino he 2009 one-year ex-penses, Eurosa was able o jusiy he non-conormiy o he public compa-nies wih he 50% crierion. Tere are addiional insances o breach o Law. Unil 2009, Greece’s Saisical Auhoriy (ELSA), o-geher wih Eurosa, had decided ha he deb o public enerprises (public uiliy companies) could no be par o he public deb, because he gov-ernmen’s ﬁnance was in he orm o shares hus increasing he propery righs o he governmen as a share-holder on hese companies. Tis is he common pracice in he res o he European counries, according o European Regulaions agreed by all European parners. In April 2010, an esimae o he 2009 deﬁci was published by Euro-sa, which guaraneed ha Greece’s ﬁnal public deﬁci ﬁgure was no go-ing o undergo urher changes by more han 0.5% o GDP eiher down- wards or upwards. On his basis, in May 2010, he Eurozone counries and he IMF suppored Greece wih €110bn o ﬁnancial assisance. Six monhs laer, Eurosa scrapped he 0.5% and raised he ﬁnal public deﬁci by 2 percenage poins, despie such major revisions being conrary o he commonly acceped Code o Saisi-cal Pracice. Eurosa’s oally unexpeced and unexplained acion was based on he ranser o 17 public companies rom he privae o he public secor. Te end resul was a devasaing alse aug-menaion o he counry’s public deb and deﬁci or he year 2009, which since hen has been carried on and on orcing he counry o sagger under an unjusiﬁed exra burden, which is souring is relaions wih he res o Europe. Te issues were brough o he Eu-ropean Parliamen and he European Commission, which have recenly re-plied in wriing by disoring he ruh. Wihou reerring o all he repored issues, heir answer claims ha he Greek law covering passenger rans-por companies is diﬀeren rom he European Law because he ormula o calculae he amoun o compensaion is no based on he produced oupu o OASA (a holding company like he French SIF). Tis is prooundly un-rue or hree reasons: OASA is a hold-ing company acing as an umbrella o he passenger ranspor companies in one o Greece’s regions, Atica, and as a consequence OASA does no have ranspor oupu o is own, as is he case exacly wih SIF. Second, i one reads he Greek law wih open, un-prejudiced eyes, hey will easily learn ha he Greek ormula is based on “he produced oupu and he passen-ger coun”, conrary, alas, o wha he European Commission reply assers. Tird, i he Greek law covering he public passenger ranspor companies was no in agreemen wih he corre-sponding European Regulaions, hen he Commission would have aced o secure harmonisaion o provisions aﬀecing compeiion in ranspor, according o he reay esablishing he European Economic Communiy. Such acions never occurred. In is answers, given in ac under pressure rom he European Parlia-men, he European Commission has resored o oher ourageous claims by even providing a small oonoe reerence repored in he 2013 Euro-sa Manual, which, ﬁrs, did no exis beore February 2013, and, second, is misleadingly repored wihou he ac-ual dae. We also noe he ollowing ac: in 2010, Eurosa moved a num- ber o public enerprises o he public secor, and, one year laer, in 2011, Eu-rosa moved hem again, back ino he privae secor. Tus, we observe ha he Commission has recognised he unjus and elonious augmenaion o Greece’s public deb, bu hey do no wan o admi i. Tis is proved by an impressive sleigh o hand: now you see i, now you don’. Te rick: imme-diaely afer he public secor was sad-dled wih hese companies’ deb, sav-ing his way he German banks rom bankrupcy, hese same companies were moved again back ino he pri- vae secor, where hey belonged since 1993. Such acions are sricly orbid-den by he European Regulaions, which require ha he iniial ranser o he public secor migh be jusiﬁed only i i was judged ha i had been in orce or several years beore and afer is iniial ranser. Eurosa’s misakes owards Greece bring o memory he spona-neiy, wih which Mr Joaquin Almu-nia, hen Commissioner or Economic and Moneary Aﬀairs (now Commis-sioner or Compeiion), reaced on 21 Ocober 2009, when he heard a revised orecas or Greece’s 2009 pub-lic deﬁci. Almunia said: “We wan o know wha has happened and why i has happened. Serious discrepancies will require an open and deep inves-igaion”. Te invesigaion never ook place, bu our years laer, on Ocober 21, Almunia said: “Te EU’s problem is unaccounabiliy”. Saying he is righ is no enough. By heir unaccounable atiude o- ward ﬁscal saisics, he European Commission and Eurosa have led o he silencing o responsible voices a Greece’s ELSA, which is now lef wihou is seven-member board and under one man’s auhoriy – he same man who is under elony charges and who is supposed o manage boh he counry’s saisical sysem and is saisical oﬃce: a unique phenom-enon in Europe. As described above, he 2009 alse public deﬁci and deb have creaed a horriﬁc whirlpool swallowing European axpayer’s bil-lions – whose desinaion is unknown – and a deb deah-spiral o a counry, which has been among he 10 ﬁrs EC member saes, wih a proven hard-working populaion, who los 7% o is populaion in he Second World War and who can hugely con-ribue o he consrucion o a more democraic European Union. Te quesion is: How can he EU go on wih one o is core members being so unjusly reaed? Te 2009 saisi-cal evens need an in-deph, serious invesigaion and no inervenions o block Greece’s judicial procedures, as Eurosa is doing. Tings have o be pu righ and Greece’s reinsae-men mus ensue. Public deb is no reused, wha is reused is is unrue and elonious par.
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