Mayor unveils 10-year plan for Athens

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis on Wednesday unveiled a number of social welfare policies combined with a development program for Greece’s troubled capital which is expected to cost some 1.5 billion euros over the next 10 years.

Taking stock of his 18 months in office, Kaminis also took aim at the previous administration, accusing it of “running Athens like a sultanate.”

Among the municipality’s top priorities is the creation of an induction center for drug addicts to provide support before their admittance to proper rehabilitation facilities. Additionally, this month is scheduled to see the operation of the so-called social solidarity hub, a distribution center providing food, blankets and other relief to people in need.

Kaminis presented an ambitious 10-year development plan worth 1.5 billion euros for crisis-hit Athens, which City Hall hopes will be funded by the European Union. The first phase of the plan, with projects worth 72 million euros that are expected to create about 1,000 jobs, will be put to tender by the end of 2012. “You won’t believe your eyes,” the mayor said of the plan, without divulging any details.

Kaminis, an independent who was endorsed by PASOK before winning the 2010 local elections, attacked his predecessor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who was at the helm of the city for four years until 2010, accusing him of oversights and financial mismanagement.

He said that kindergartens and other municipal-run services were operating without permits from town-planning authorities. “Did they really think they could hold office for life and behave like [Ottoman-era] overlords?” he said.

Presenting a list of cost-cutting measures for the heavily indebted municipality, Kaminis said that the budget for last year’s Christmas celebrations was 10 percent of that in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of municipal departments has been reduced to 22 from 36. However, Kaminis said, although spending has dropped by 30 percent, only 40 percent of outstanding debts to suppliers have been paid, while welfare spending has almost doubled. 

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