NEWS

Government to unveil key economic policies

The unveiling of key economic policies, including the latest austerity measures, is due on Friday amid growing unrest in the ruling PASOK party, which the government will have to quell in the next few weeks if it is to avoid a defeat in Parliament and the need to call snap elections.

A cabinet meeting is due to be held on Friday morning to discuss the government?s midterm fiscal plan, to cover the 2012-15 period, and its ideas for making further cuts to public spending and raising more revenues, which are designed to save Greece 23 billion euros.

After ministers have been briefed by Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, the government?s intentions will be presented to PASOK MPs and then the party?s political council.

The measures are due to be submitted in Parliament in mid-May, by which time Papandreou will be hoping to have won round a number of PASOK MPs who have over the last few weeks been expressing serious concerns about the direction of the government?s economic policy. Should Papandreou not be able to convince enough deputies by then, his government faces the prospect of losing the vote. This would almost certainly lead to the premier having to call early elections.

Government sources said that when he addresses PASOK MPs and party members today, he will try to get across the idea that they all have a shared responsibility in trying to stabilize the Greek economy and help the government get over its debt crisis. However, Papandreou is not expected to seek direct confrontation with any of the skeptical parliamentarians.

Papaconstantinou came under fire again on Thursday from dissenting lawmakers when he met with members of PASOK?s political council. They accused him of not coming up with a clear plan to get Greece out of the crisis and of not allowing economic policy to be debated properly. Several party members also raised the issue of debt restructuring, which the finance minister tried to quash by saying that it would be damaging to discuss such an option at the moment.

While Papaconstantinou was fielding the concerns of party members, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was on the receiving end of the public?s anger as eggs were thrown at him and his advisers when they visited a retirement home in Athens.