NEWS

Samaras singles out taxation as key obstacle

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday singled out taxation as his main point of disagreement with the government?s economic policy, insisting that lower taxes are needed to help Greece return to growth and to restore some hope among Greeks.

Samaras and his party have been criticized at home and abroad over the last few days for opposing the government?s medium-term fiscal plan even though the conservatives agree to reductions in public spending and back the sale of state assets.

Germany?s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper suggested that the European People?s Party, the grouping of the EU?s center-right parties, is considering either ousting ND or cutting its subsidies.

Samaras appeared unperturbed when he spoke at a gathering in Pertouli, central Greece, yesterday but he took care in specifying exactly what he opposes in the midterm fiscal plan, to be voted in Parliament on Wednesday.

He said that Greeks were ?over-taxed? and that the new hikes included in the scheme were ?too much of a burden to carry.? ?The most difficult thing that I see throughout all of Greece is the dejection, the feeling of depression, something that does not suit the Greeks,? he said

ND?s insistence that it will not support the measures in Parliament this week has caused extra tension between the conservatives and ruling PASOK. ND deputy Theodoros Karaoglou prompted an angry response from his Socialist counterpart Panayiotis Kouroublis when he suggested on Skai radio that the latter and two other PASOK MPs who have indicated they might not support the government this week were ?phoney rebels? and would end up voting for the midterm plan.