Gov’t refuses comment on BoG chief’s call for bolder reforms

The government distanced itself yesterday from the call by the Bank of Greece’s governor, Nikos Garganas, on Monday in favor of bolder reforms, with Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis refusing to be drawn. «The Bank of Greece is economically, operationally and politically independent,» said Alogoskoufis, noting that «the government has always respected that independence.» Employment and Social Security Minister Savvas Tsitouridis added that the government listens to everyone’s opinion, but eventually applies its own policy, for which it is judged. However, former PASOK minister Theodoros Pangalos said that Garganas has absolutely no reason to support the government and that this is not his job, adding that the Bank of Greece governor «has missed a wonderful opportunity to remain silent.» Pangalos further referred to Garganas’s ironic statement about the rising price of radishes, saying, «I am certain that Garganas knows that radishes, like all vegetables, take a very significant portion of households’ expenditure and the fluctuation of prices always plays a crucial role.» For its part, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) said yesterday in a statement that Garganas has overstepped his institutional role and stressed that it would intensify its struggle against any policies which it sees as harming the people. Meeting with Sarris Alogoskoufis yesterday met with his Cypriot counterpart, Michalis Sarris, discussing their countries’ economic ties. The two ministers examined ways of improving the investment climate from both sides and of facilitating bilateral trade, according to Alogoskoufis. «We examined issues referring to tax and customs checks, while discussions continue on cooperation over capital market and stock market issues. We also looked into ways of strengthening our business presence in the broader region, and by this I mean in Southeastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, making the most of our comparative advantages and of our mutually complementing economies,» Alogoskoufis stated. The Cypriot minister noted that his contacts in Athens have been made in a very good climate and thanked Alogoskoufis for the hospitality. «Our cooperation is expanding to many other domains,» Sarris suggested after the meeting with Alogoskoufis. «There is increased interest in cooperation between Greek and Cypriot enterprises and we believe that these experiences will assist in strengthening further the relations Cypriot and Greek entrepreneurs,» the Cypriot minister said.