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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs meeting on global credit crisis

  • [01] PM chairs meeting on global credit crisis

    The government will persevere with the reforms needed to put the country on track and not back down, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined on Thursday. He made the statement after chairing a meeting of the full cabinet to discuss the ramifications of the global economic crisis and the government's response to it.

    "Greece has only one path it can take. The path that leads ahead. And I am here to push things forward. This government was elected to change things and it will change things. This is the mandate I was given and intend to honour," Karamanlis said.

    He also announced a government initiative for an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the repercussions of the crisis, saying he had already contacted Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas to make the arrangements. He emphasised the significance of the credit crisis and said the debate would be an opportunity to inform parties and the people about its possible impact and the government's policy.

    Karamanlis noted that in the last five years the country has been on a "trajectory of reforms" and was standing up against the "organised interests" that had been "manipulating the system in the last decades".

    PM exhorts ministers to do more work, cooperate with MPs

    In his address to government minsiters, Karamanlis exhorted them to show greater alertness, do more work and initiate targeted action to protect the economy against the repercussions of the global credit crisis.

    "At this difficult time, the Greek economy has satisfactory indices and powerful resilience," the prime minister said. He emphasised that the Greek banking system was safe and that this was an especially positive fact for the economy, ordinary people and Greek businesses.

    Referring to problems that have arisen within ruling New Democracy in past days, meanwhile, Karamanlis emphasised that he was well aware of the problems:

    "I know what is happening in detail. I only stress that we have an obligation and, chiefly, the will and the power to honour the mandate we were given by the Greek people," he told ministers, adding that the government had "a plan and determination to deal with the problems".

    Noting that the international crisis created an additional burden of responsibility for all, he urged ministers to quickly process and pass legislation announced by the government that was aimed at solving people's everyday problems.

    He emphasised the government's intention to set up a strong social 'safety net', to pass measures to protect loan holders and restrain price rises and, as a top priority, activate the Social Cohesion Fund, whose first action would be to pay out heating oil benefits to lower income groups.

    Turning to preparation for a new administrative structure for the country, the premier said he was determined to tackle problems that had persisted for decades, such as the loss-making national carrier Olympic Airlines or the state-owned Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) "that daily burden Greeks with deficits that approach three million euros".

    Karamanlis also backed a finance ministry plan to introduce presumptive taxation based on standard of living indicators, stressing that these would be "simple and just", and pledged to gradually abolish "closed shops" in order to boost healthy competition.

    One of the main issues emphasised by the premier was the need for ministers to work and bring tangible results that targeted the people's problems - not least in terms of cutting down wasteful spending.

    He asked that each ministry set specific targets, to be given to him in writing, show greater involvement "on the ground" by visiting areas with problems and initiate major projects to improve the country's developmental infrastructure. He especially exhorted ministers to be open, accessible and work together with the MPs for each region, setting aside specific days for meeting Parliamentary deputies, while particularly demanding close cooperation with the ruling party's Parliamentary group.

    "The reforms being planned in the coming period and the important decisions for the country are not reaching our deputies' ears, not through announcements nor through ministers' interviews," he stressed, making it clear that ministries and public enterprises must have their doors open to MPs of all parties and that ministry staff were there to serve and answer MPs' questions:

    "They have an obligation to answer immediately themselves, not through their staff. Whoever does not meet this requirement will be immediately replaced," he emphasised, adding that no one was "tied to his seat".

    One of the measures announced by Karamanlis for dealing with the economic crisis was the creation of a government committee for social policy, with the participation of the finance, interior, employment and health ministries.

    "We must exhaust all options for supporting citizens, especially those that are economically weakest," Karamanlis underlined.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis


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