Prime Minister Antonis Samaras described his new cabinet of 45 ministers and deputy ministers as one that would be able to “plan for Greece’s future” after the group of ministers were sworn in and held their first meeting.
“This is a new day for Greece but the target remains the same: to complete the effort to exit the crisis and to speed up the recovery on solid foundations,” Samaras told his cabinet, which includes eight new ministers. Nine new deputy ministers have joined the government. Overall, the government has four more members than the previous one.
Samaras stressed the need for further reforms, particularly in the area of taxation, and said one of the government’s main targets should be ensuring the return of growth and new jobs to Greece.
“Unemployment has been falling over the past few months but we need to succeed in creating new jobs,” he said. “This government’s aim must be to do even better than the last.”
Greece’s new finance minister, Eurobank’s former head of economic research Gikas Hardouvelis, also focused on the need to increase employment in his first comments since taking on his new role. “We have to take care of the problems faced by families and businesses,” he said.
His predecessor, Yannis Stournaras, is expected to be nominated as the next Bank of Greece governor on Wednesday by the central lender’s general council. Stournaras, though, will be out of the country as he will be holding talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin.
It emerged on Tuesday that Stournaras has traveled more than 204,000 kilometers since taking up his role in June 2012. An indication of the size of the task facing Hardouvelis was also evident from the fact that during Stournaras’s reign, his ministry drafted 43 of 220 bills through Parliament. There were also 124 presidential decrees and 6,440 ministerial decisions issued.
Stournaras is expected to discuss, among other things, further debt relief for Greece. This was an issue that was raised during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting by Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos. “The primary surplus is being transformed into a social dividend and into a launching pad for growth,” he said. “Our aim is to achieve debt sustainability.”
Venizelos, who remains as foreign minister, is one of four PASOK officials who will be in charge of departments if one includes new Education Minister Andreas Loverdos, who quit the party but is expected to return. There were two significant appointments for PASOK at the deputy ministerial level. The party’s parliamentary spokesman Paris Koukoulopoulos was appointed at the Agricultural Development Ministry, while PASOK’s spokesman Odysseas Constantinopoulos took up a post at the Development Ministry. This means that Socialists will now have to pick new MPs to fulfill these roles for the party.