Greece said on Wednesday that it was abolishing a secret fund used by the press ministry for decades, and is transferring the money into the regular state budget to help cut debt and bring transparency to its governance. The press ministry’s so-called “Classified Expenditures” had been operating under a law set up by Greece’s military dictatorship in 1970, government spokesman Ilias Mosialos said in a statement announcing its abolition.
Although the amount is comparatively small – about €200,000, Mosialos said – the move comes at a time when Greeks are being asked to pay ever increasing taxes as the government struggles to bring its budget deficit under control. Mosialos insisted Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government, which was elected in Octοber 2009, had not made use of the fund, which was earmarked for the General Secretariats of Communication and Information, as the press ministry is known, for propaganda purposes. “Practices of using secret funds by these agencies in no way serve the national or public interest, which would justify their existence,” Mosialos said in his statement. “On the contrary, they diminish the operation of the general secretariats and exposed them to criticism of manipulation. And obviously, there is no place for them in a modern parliamentary democracy.”
The abolition of the practice at the press ministry would put an end “to an opaque practice of Greek political history that began during the Metaxa dictatorship” in the late 1930s-1940s, the statement said.
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