The Real Work of the New Greek Government Begins - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 20/Oct/2009

Ministers of the new PASOK government fleshed out their proposals on the third and final day of a three-day policy program debate in Parliament yesterday, which was to culminate at midnight with MPs casting their vote of confidence in the new socialist administration.

Meanwhile, the real work of government was to begin today with a crucial meeting in Brussels between Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia, during which the former will try to convince the latter that the new Greek government’s planned reforms can curb a bloated budget deficit. Papaconstantinou is expected to press Almunia for an extension of up to three years to bring the deficit in line with European Commission requirements following warnings by Giorgos Provopoulos, the governor of the Bank of Greece, that it could reach 12 percent of gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, Louka Katseli, who has assumed the other half of the former finance and economy portfolio, reassured Parliament yesterday that the government had a “reliable” plan to get the battered economy back on its feet in the short-term and restructure it in the medium term. Katseli, whose title is Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant Marine, also heralded five pieces of legislation aimed at protecting borrowers and simplifying the procedures needed to set up a company.

A host of other ministers added details to election pledges and heralded new proposals. Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis vowed to introduce legislation that would give the children of immigrants and migrants with long-term residence permits the right to vote in municipal elections next year. Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis reiterated his pledge to increase safety in city neighborhoods but said there would be no more police sweeps. Labor and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos pledged to abolish the provisions of a law passed by his conservative predecessor that foresees a raising of the retirement age.

Senior opposition deputies also addressed Parliament, keen to make their presence felt. Former minister Evangelos Meimarakis told fellow MPs of ruling PASOK: “Do not think that ND is navel-gazing. We are here.”



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