Greek schools in danger of closure for lack of heating



Athens: Schools in northern Greece run the risk of being closed in the coming days because they haven't enough money to pay for heating, said authorities.

Temperatures in northern Greece have dropped 10 degrees C in the past week, which increases the risk of closure, the City Councils Union, or KEDE, officials cited by the AMNA news agency said.

The organization complains that funds for school maintenance have been cut by 50 percent, a situation aggravated by a 40 percent hike in the price of gasoil for heating.

Greece is one of the European countries where fuel is most expensive, with a litre of gasoline costing between 1.7 and 1.9 euros (between $8.36 and $9.12 per gallon).

Up to now, gasoil for heating has been exempt from certain taxes, which kept prices at a more affordable level.

Now, however, the troika supervising Greece's finances - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - has demanded an end to what it considers the subsidized price of gasoil for heating.

"The new austerity measures and cutbacks are pushing municipal governments, with mathematical precision, into bankruptcy, leaving them with no possibility of operating their services and leading to a collapse of the welfare state," KEDE said.

Recent weeks have seen a number of demonstrations in northern Greece protesting the rise in gasoil prices.

Already last winter, many homes around Greece and some schools could not afford to turn on their central heating systems.

IANS