The number of Greek municipalities in "serious financial difficulties" requiring a programme of fiscal reform was not more than 15, Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos announced on Wednesday after meeting the local authority staff union federation POE-OTA.
"The government has a specific policy for all the municipalities in the country. The municipalities must balance their budgets so that they do not burden the general government deficit and in the process we are ensuring that no municipality is over-indebted," he said.
The minister said that about 10 to 15 municipalities had surplus staff and that this would be dealt with through a process of staff transfers.
"Labour reserve is a measure that may follow if this effort fails," he added.
Replying to reporters' questions, Koukoulopoulos said that the one hiring to 10 departures rules should not create a problem for the transfers, noting that the government regarded local government, muncipalities and other legal entities as a "single system of independent general government".
On the municipalities that would subjected to the process, Koukoulopoulos said a precise picture will emerge once an audit is completed at the end of September, adding that the amount of a municipality's debts would not be the only factor but also whether it generated primary deficit or surpluses.
"We must look at the figures for all legal entities and see whether the total burden on each municipality is manageable," he said.
At present, however, the municipalities facing difficult problems were fewer than 15, he added.