NEWS

PM identifies signs Greece is turning the corner

Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Tuesday that a survey indicating that corruption is on the wane in Greece is a sign that his government?s reforms are having a positive effect.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate about economic policy in the wake of the eurozone leaders? decision last weekend to improve the terms for Greece?s 110-billion-euro loan package, Papandreou insisted that the country was on the right track.

?The changes we are making will liberate a lot of people and will also challenge unfair benefits and the established order,? he said. ?Perceptions and practices will be shattered, as the publication of data today showing that corruption has fallen.?

The prime minister was referring to a joint report by the corruption watchdog Transparency International and polling firm Public Issue that showed incidents of graft in the public sector were down for the first time since 2007.

According to the report, which is based on a survey of more than 6,000 respondents, the percentage of Greek households that reported instances of corruption in the state or private sector last year fell to 10.4 percent from 13.4 percent in 2009.

?The path is becoming easier because the systematic, daily changes are being made that bear fruit,? said Papandreou. ?Step-by-step we will bring growth and new jobs to our country.?

Papandreou also called on the opposition parties to provide ?constructive criticism? but did not miss the opportunity to attack New Democracy, who he said should preaching ?responsibility, responsibility and responsibility? after leaving the country with ?debt, debt and debt.?

ND leader Antonis Samaras responded by accusing the government of having the wrong formula for the economic crisis, saying it should focus on ?growth, growth and growth.? He repeated his call for the terms of the loan memorandum with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to be renegotiated.

?I talk about growth because I have to think about tomorrow,? said Samaras. ?You ask us to sail the same course but with your policies, you will only take us to the depths of the sea.?

Samaras also attacked the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and its leader Giorgos Karatzaferis of inconsistency over whether they support the memorandum or not.

Karatzaferis responded in kind to Samaras but also suggested that if by 2015 Greece cannot raise the 50 billion euros from privatizations it has agreed with the EU and the IMF, then it should offer public property worth this amount to the European Central Bank, with the proviso that it can be returned if Athens raises the money.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga said that she would not heed Papandreou?s call for consensus, accusing PASOK of hiding the new austerity measures it plans to introduce.

?We will not be party to anything,? she said. ?It is not our patriotic duty to stand by any Greek government that negotiates on behalf of capital.?

The leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) accused the main parties of staging a political row so they could justify early elections that would give them a new mandate for austerity measures and sell-offs.

He also accused Papandreou of exaggerating Greece?s success at the eurozone leaders? meeting. ?For us to say that we won something, we had to get something from the meeting,? he said. ?But we only got what they were willing to give to us.?