Greek lawmakers back 'general staff' with oversight function

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
Athens
Published 07.08.2019 01:47

The Greek parliament voted Tuesday in favour of a controversial bill proposed by conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that calls for a committee to be established to oversee government ministries.

Mitsotakis has embarked on a fast-paced programme of reforms since taking office last month.

His New Democracy (ND) party has an absolute majority in parliament, and has already passed several laws in the first four weeks since the Greek parliamentary elections.

The new "general staff" committee is to monitor whether ministries carry out their tasks on schedule and report directly to the prime minister.

Mitsotakis has set a blistering pace for reforms since winning the election in early July, so far making good on his promise to streamline Greece's bloated administration and make it more accountable.

The opposition has criticized the "general staff" plan as unnecessary and said it seeks to consolidate the premier's power and limit the autonomy of ministers.

Mitsotakis, however, argues that passing legislation has been too inefficient and bogged down by bureaucracy in the past.

On Thursday, lawmakers are expected to passed a second bill seeking to allow police easier access to university campuses.

The bill would limit the unique sanctity enjoyed by Greek university property and allow police to enter campuses in pursuit of criminals or intervene in case of riots.

Police have to go through the university and student bodies to gain access to the grounds in a complex procedure that is subject to abuse by radical groups and criminals.

Some radical groups have vowed to demonstrate against the new legislation.

The law has its roots in antiquity, when it guaranteed the freedom of expression and free teaching. Since the last century, the law has largely been used by people seeking to avoid the police for political reasons.

In more recent years, drug dealers and leftist hooligans have exploited the law, leaving police powerless to pursue them on university grounds.

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