Market-boosting measures to pass

The government has found a way to sidestep the closure of Parliament in order to implement three key measures it had announced. The popularity and practicality of the measures about value-added tax payment, the freezing of many repossessed property auctions and the withdrawal of old cars have practically forced their implementation. After a proposal by Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and with the consent of Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday ordered the three measures to begin being implemented with the issuance of legislation acts by the government, which in a way is a substitute for the parliamentary approval required. These measures, which had been announced before the Prime Minister called snaps polls, concern the withdrawal of old vehicles based on environmental criteria and incentives, the payment of any value-added tax due by companies via installments and the freezing of auctions for debts up to 200,000 euros. Yesterday’s decision was deemed essential, as all three measures are needed to help keep the market moving given the global crisis. The effects of these measures are also likely have favorable impact on the government’s popularity. At the same meeting with the PM, Papathanassiou offered a detailed account of his meeting with European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia this week in Brussels. Sources suggest that Papathanassiou told the government committee there had been informal EU approval of the two-year extension Greece has requested in which to lower its budget deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product. «We had an analytical discussion in the context of the committee about all issues concerning the economy ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair. The government’s decision and determination to proceed with bold structural changes and reforms with long-term benefit are well-known. Greece cannot afford to wait,» said Papathanassiou on his way out of the PM’s office.