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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Greece PM announces minor cabinet reshuffle

AFP , Tuesday 4 Aug 2020
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday announced a limited government reshuffle to improve performance on health and EU fund management.

The move was an "operational improvement" to the government, the premier's spokesman Stelios Petsas said on television.

Among the goals of the revamp was the "management of increased EU funds" and the "organisational reinforcement" of the health ministry, Petsas said.

Greece has seen COVID-19 infections increase this month to levels last seen in April, with officials blaming overcrowding in clubs and social events.

Since July 1 there have been over 340 confirmed infections among nearly 1.3 million incoming travellers, according to the civil protection agency.

Greece has so far recorded 209 COVID-19 deaths and over 4,800 infections.

Mitsotakis appointed new deputy ministers for health, social insurance, and environmental protection, and upgraded two other officials to junior minister.

A dozen people overall were either brought into the government, or had their posts upgraded.

Two officials were upgraded to oversee EU funding, and another to handle tourism.

Greece has already announced new measures to tackle the surge in cases.

It has imposed a seven-day quarantine for travellers arriving from Albania and tighter controls at the land borders and in the food and farming sector.

It has also made the wearing of masks in enclosed spaces compulsory, including in churches, ahead of a major Greek orthodox festival due on August 15.

Greece stands to receive 32 billion euros from the 750-billion-euro ($884-billion) recovery package agreed by EU leaders last month.

Mitsotakis also had to fill the post of the deputy environment minister who recently resigned to take up an EU position.

A reshuffle had been expected since June, when Mitsotakis dropped a hint about "corrective moves" in the government during a visit to Israel.

Just over a year after coming to power, Mitsotakis' New Democracy party leads in opinion polls by at least 14 percentage points.

The economy is expected to contract by 5.8 percent this year according to the Bank of Greece, partly because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tourism revenue.

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