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Greek car lot leaves vehicles to rot after economic snafu

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 11th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As the nation of Greece tries to right itself during the ongoing economic turmoil, an expansive lot in Athens where the finest vehicles - cars, vans, motorbikes, eerily stands in as a symbol of a country's malaise.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After the closure of the government agency the Organization for Public Property Management, row upon row of luxury cars sit abandoned in vast car lots. The agency is currently unable to sell or auction any of the vehicles off.  

The agency was formed in 1946 to manage leftover wartime equipment. The group formerly ran a network of warehouses auctioning anything from old sofas discarded from city hall waiting rooms to luxury cars confiscated from drug dealers.

These warehouses were popular with Greek government figures in the market for a bargain. However, with the Greek government agency's slide into a bureaucratic quagmire 10 years ago, the agency began showing huge losses. Published results for 2009 show accumulated losses of 17 million Euros and had a net loss that year of 2.4 million Euros.

Destined for the scrap heap in last year, employees and government officials insist the agency still exists in all but name, and has simply become an office of the Greek Finance Ministry and been renamed DDDY.

The transfer has almost paralyzed its ability to run auctions to make money. Only one auction has been held this year at the main lot in Athens, compared with one a month previously.

In addition, a shortage of security guards to curtail theft means some of the agency's clerks have been drafted as watchmen. Dogs in cages are another interim solution for discouraging robberies.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has a goal to save up to two billion Euros by 2015 through scrapping some of the thousand or so similar agencies. Auditors from the European Union are meeting Samaras this week.

Dimitris Kouvaris, who has run the DDDY operation since last March has defended the agency's efforts to reform itself, acknowledging struggles with technical problems but insisting that it was too early to pass judgment on a long-term overhaul which he said would save the state money eventually.

"Our aim is to reduce spending, achieve better control of expenses and upgrade services," he said.

"Of course, we have technical and operational problems which we are trying to overcome, and also labor-related issues, since the workforce has been significantly reduced."

Online sales could restart this month. Prime assets include a luxury yacht and cargo vessels. The name change to DDDY led to its internet access being cut off in March, hindering further sales.

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