Greek PM keeps vacationing ministers on tight leash

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday stressed the importance of momentum being maintained in the government’s economic reform drive even as his ministers prepare to take a week’s vacation.

In an unusually short meeting, lasting just half an hour, Samaras asked his ministers to leave their contact details with the Cabinet’s secretary before going on holiday so they can be reached if necessary.

Acknowledging that the ministers are entitled to a break, the premier emphasized that “the government is not going on holiday,” indicating that reforms pledged to the troika must continue ahead of talks with foreign inspectors due in September. Samaras is keen to show that Athens has honored its commitments in a bid to overcome any objections by the troika to his plans to introduce tax breaks as an antidote to austerity measures.

The government managed to win parliamentary approval on Wednesday for a multi-bill containing a range of reforms without any major political fallout after making several last-minute changes. But the imposition of a new unified property tax in September is expected to test the coalition’s cohesion again.

The Cabinet on Thursday also approved Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou’s proposed candidates for Supreme Court president, Athanassios Koutromanos, and Court of Audit president, Nikolaos Angelaras.