The new system for purchasing medical supplies and pharmaceuticals will help save some 400 million euros a year and thus 'plug' the yawning hole in the state health sector's finances, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told Parliament on Friday.

He was replying to a question by PASOK MP who claimed that the Greek health system was a "world champion" in terms of corruption, with an overall deficit exceeding 4.8 billion euro.

The minister disagreed that high procurement costs and corruption were at the root of the problem, stressing that corruption thrived and was protected "where there is mismanagement". According to the Loverdos, the problem arose because annual costs were not paid promptly but only after five to six years, so that over-pricing appeared "reasonable".