PPC privatization plan to be scrapped; CEO to remain

In his first official moves as the newly appointed Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister, Panayiotis Lafazanis is expected to submit an amendment to cancel previous legislation that permitted the privatization of PPC, the Public Power Corporation, and also suspend a civil mobilization order issued last July to force striking utility employees back to work.

Despite these radical changes at PPC, the utility’s chief executive, Arthuros Zervos, is likely to remain at his post, at least for the time being. Zervos was never in favor of the PPC privatization plan implemented by the previous government, as was pointed out by an official of the new Syriza-led coalition.

According to sources, PPC’s chief will meet with Lafazanis today for a discussion on the utility’s immediate concerns as well as long-term plans.

Analysts have cited three reasons as to why they believe Zervos will remain at PPC’s helm. Firstly, in recent years, he has consistently opposed the idea of breaking up the utility’s corporate structure as part of the privatization plan. Secondly, his views on PPC’s wider role in the country’s production reconstruction plans converge with those of the new left-leaning government. Thirdly, his expert knowledge of the electricity market has been acknowledged, while, at the same time, the government is faced by other pressing issues.

The new government’s plan for free electricity to 300,000 vulnerable households is expected to be discussed at today’s meeting between Lafazanis and Zervos. Deputy Prime Minister Giorgos Dragasakis made clear yesterday that PPC would not take on the cost of this social program. Later in the day, officials at the Lafazanis-headed ministry said the funds required to finance the free-electricity program would be drawn from the National Strategic Reference Framework, an EU funding program, as well as the anticipated extra revenues to be raised by an intensified battle against tax evasion.