(MENAFN - AFP) Greece's state-run privatisation fund will remain in the country's hands, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Sunday, following media reports of a possible transfer of the agency's responsibilities to Europe.
"(Privatisation fund) Taiped (or Hradf) will remain in Greek hands," Samaras told the Sunday edition of left-leaning daily Eleftherotypia.
Earlier this week, media reported that Greece's international creditors will pressure the indebted country into transferring responsibility for the sale of state property assets to a holding company in Europe, in an effort to speed up the much-delayed privatisation drive.
"I absolutely deny the possibility of transferring the fund abroad," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras also told the Sunday edition of centre-left newspaper Ethnos.
"The exploitation of Greek public property is carried out by Taiped and the Greek government. This won't change," Stournaras said.
Spokesman for EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, Simon O'Connor, had previously denied the reports.
"Ownership of this programme (privatisations) must absolutely remain in the hands of the Greek government," O'Connor said Thursday.
Greece is under pressure from its European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank creditors to speed up the privatisation of parts of its economy, in return for much-needed rescue loans.
The privatisation programme is far behind schedule and Athens recently revised its estimated asset sales for this year down to 1.6 billion euros (2.1 billion) from an initial target of 2.6 billion euros.
In mid-August, the fund's head was sacked after travelling on board the plane of a businessman who was part of a consortium which recently bought state gaming group Opap for 652 million euros.
This was the second blow to Greece's privatisation drive this summer, after the sudden withrdrawal of Russian gas giant Gazprom's plans to buy the country's state gas operator DEPA in June.