Up to 200,000 staff are expected to leave the public sector by the end of the government's term, leaving Greece with the smallest proportion of public-sector staff among the countries of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis said on Tuesday.
The minister said that the government intended to stick to the rule of hiring only one person for every five that leave, noting that cutbacks at the interior ministry during 2011 would amount to roughly one billion euro.
Commenting on the uniform public-sector pay scale now being prepared, Ragoussis said that public sector staff should not fear additional cuts overall, stressing that the aim was to instill a fairer distribution of income and social justice.
He also strongly criticised the reaction of main opposition New Democracy toward the penalties imposed on Central Macedonia Region chief Panagiotis Psomiadis, saying that the stance of ND leader Antonis Samaras was unacceptable while the arguments employed by ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis were "ridiculous".
Ragoussis pointed out that the penalty imposed on Psomiadis was included in the municipal code voted when ND was in power, which had been incorporated into the Kallikratis laws.
Finally, the minister ruled out the prospect of early elections, saying that the Greek people had already clearly indicated their opposition to more elections when the government put the dilemma before them during the local elections in November.