A recently released report on the public-sector payroll confirmed that the government's policies were moving in the right direction and had achieved visible results, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis said on Wednesday. He was commenting on a report released the previous day by the finance and interior ministries.

Concerning planned changes to civil service salaries, Ragoussis stressed that the new salary scale "in no way aimed to cut back payroll costs".

The goal of reducing the public-sector payroll from 21.5 billion euro a year to 16.5 billion euro a year at the end of the government's term will be achieved "through the policies that we have adopted until now and the choice made last year to freeze hiring and this year to adopt the 5:1 ratio (five departures for one hiring)," the minister said.

Ragoussis said that dialogue will soon begin with the civil servants' union ADEDY on the form of the new salary scale, which would be simple, straightforward and based on the principle of equal pay for equal work.

"We want a salary scale that is based on this basic principle, which is fair, simple and modern and which acts as an incentive and not a disincentive for a civil servant to give his best in the effort to serve citizens," he added.

According to Ragoussis, the ultimate goal was to make the Greek civil service one of the most economical among the countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union.

"We will have one of the lowest public-sector payroll costs in relation to the total of primary spending of a state," he said.

According to the report unveiled on Tuesday, employment levels in the Greek public sector were comparable with those of developed economies and especially those of the EU. The problem, according to the authors of the report, lay in the Greek public sector's efficiency and "the chosen policy of state involvement in economic life".

Among others, the current structure of the payroll was criticised as "introverted" and out of touch with market trends, where wages were lower. Other shortcomings were the failure to differentiate between staff with marginal or poor performance and those whose performance was high, thus encouraging indifference and acting as a disincentive for productivity.