World

Greek energy minister: government 'radically opposed' to privatization in energy sector

A woman knits as she sits next to her stall in Piraeus port town, west of Athens, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Greece is quickly running out of cash and has to repay debts this month to the International Monetary Fund — which co-funded Greece's euro240 billion  bailout . (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

A woman knits as she sits next to her stall in Piraeus port town, west of Athens, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Greece is quickly running out of cash and has to repay debts this month to the International Monetary Fund — which co-funded Greece's euro240 billion bailout . (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)  (The Associated Press)

Greece's energy and environment minister says his new government is "radically opposed" to the privatization of "strategic sectors and businesses," particularly in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

Speaking at an energy conference in Athens on Wednesday, Panagiotis Lafazanis said he didn't understand why privatizations "have become synonymous with reforms" for some. He argues that what he called the "neoliberal deregulation" of the energy market had prolonged and worsened Greece's financial crisis and energy poverty in the country.

Privatizations of many state assets were among initial conditions in Greece's bailout, along with strict austerity measures that included spending cuts and tax hikes. The other 18 European countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund have kept Greece from bankruptcy since 2010 with 240 billion euros in rescue loans.