Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday outlined a plan for new legislation that will clearly define the responsibilities of all state agencies at every level – as well as his intention to arrange electricity bill discounts for consumers left without power during the recent bad weather – in opening remarks at a meeting of ruling New Democracy’s parliamentary group.
The prime minister thanked all those still in the field and working to restore the damage from the heavy snow, while noting that people’s anger was justified. He also expressed displeasure at the attempts by various officials and services to shunt blame for the situation on each other.
“For this reason, it is our decision to go ahead at greater speed with one of our central pre-election pledges, which is none other than the clarification of responsibilities at all levels of state functioning, starting with the central state,” he said.
The recent bad weather had shown the problems that arose when these issues were not clear, such as in the case of who was responsible for pruning trees, when local authorities, forestry departments, regional authorities and companies such as the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) might be involved in the process.
“We will deal with it centrally through a draft bill that will be tabled by the interior ministry,” Mitsotakis said.
The prime minister said that state services had been given clear orders to keep working until even the last house had power reconnected, and estimated that power will be restored to all by the end of the day.
Another issue highlighted by the bad weather were the long-term problems in crucial infrastructure networks, Mitsotakis said, where he noted that investments at HEDNO had been reduced by almost 75 pct in the last decade.
When the government took over in 2019, he said, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) was on the verge of going bankrupt and HEDNO had not even ordered the poles needed to cover its immediate needs. As a sign of good will, Mitsotakis said he asked the PPC to consider reductions in the bills of households left without power, with announcements to be made in this direction very soon.
The prime minister went on to announce a series of actions to improve the relevant infrastructure that will be included in the National Recovery Plan, including the laying of underground power cables in some areas.