ECONOMY

Papandreou asks EU for quick release of funding

With the passage of two parliamentary votes paving the way for the release of emergency funding from Greece?s foreign creditors, Prime Minister George Papandreou has written to European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso asking for the swift release of EU subsidies to help the debt-ridden country return to growth.

In a letter sent to Barroso late on Thursday, just hours after a second critical vote in Parliament approved the implementation of a new set of austerity measures Papandreou requested an ?acceleration of the absorption? of subsidies destined to go toward the development of infrastructure including Greek ports and roads.

The premier also asked that the participation of the Greek state in subsidizing infrastructure projects be suspended until 2013 so that funding can be focused on boosting growth.

Noting in his letter that, with the positive austerity votes, the government had ?fulfilled all its commitments to secure the release of the fifth tranche of emergency funding and the approval of a new [rescue] program,» Papandreou said that his government was preparing a ?comprehensive plan for the immediate acceleration of the absorption? of EU subsidies.

The premier stressed that he was not requesting additional EU funding, just the swifter release of subsidies already on the cards.

Together with the provisions of the midterm fiscal program, this could ?contribute to extricating Greece more quickly from the crisis,? Papandreou said.

He concluded his letter to the EC President with a proposal for a five-point plan for economic recovery for Greece which would focus on ?technical support? for businesses that have been hit by the debt crisis, the possible involvement of the European Investment Bank in major infrastructure projects, support from private investors, the overhaul of programs aimed at tackling rising unemployment and the contribution of technical knowhow from other EU member states.

Papandreou said the combination of this five-point plan with funding support ?would contribute to the effective implementation of the midterm fiscal program and to the safeguarding of social cohesion at a very difficult time for the Greek people.?