ECONOMY

New minister to scrutinize state of the economy

Newly appointed Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou is planning to take a long hard look at the state of the Greek economy, following yesterday’s first meeting of the interministerial economic committee. The aim of the exercise will not only be to get the latest snapshot of the widening black hole in public finances, but to prepare measures to ensure flexibility in adjusting either to what the European Commission calls for or meeting the needs of the local economy. Such measures may include the strengthening of the public investment program in order to maintain the growth rate, as well as the undertaking of certain initiatives in support of the weakest social groups. Apart from the general atmosphere of change among the government’s economic team, at yesterday’s meeting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis showed his determination to put his own political weight behind the economic policy that will largely determine the future of the government. In addition to Papathanassiou, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and the governor of the Bank of Greece, Giorgos Provopoulos, were also present at the discussion that was rather general in nature, focusing on the structural problems of the economy and estimates of the global picture over the next few months. After the two-hour meeting, which will be become a regular fixture, Papathanassiou explained that the committee would operate in order to render more effective the coordination of activity. «At this crucial financial juncture that is hurting the global economy and every country, it is vital that we coordinate our activity to handle the crisis in the best possible way and constantly monitor the economy, so as to adjust our policy as required,» said the economy minister. «We conducted an in-depth review of the international crisis and its impacts on the Greek economy,» he added. The main opposition PASOK party criticized the presence of Provopoulos at the meeting, charging that his participation was not compatible with his institutional role.