NEWS

PM wants reforms ready by end of August

July and August are usually the months when Greeks wind down, but like many residents, members of the government are unlikely to enjoy much of a break this summer, as Prime Minister George Papandreou has asked his ministers to complete the drafting of a raft of new legislation within the next few weeks.

Sources said Papandreou has written to ministers to inform them that each department will have to complete by the end of August a range of reforms and draft laws that go beyond the measures that Greece pledged to adopt as part of the midterm fiscal plan, which was passed by Parliament last month and helped secure a 12-billion-euro loan installment from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Sources said that Papandreou expects negotiations with the EU and the IMF about a second bailout for Greece to be completed by the beginning of September and he wants to strengthen his government?s hand during these talks by pointing to the fast pace of reforms.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said on Friday that talks between eurozone leaders mainly aimed at finding a way to tackle Greece?s debt crisis while involving the private sector would take place in Brussels on Thursday. His bid to hold the meeting this week was rejected by Germany.

Speaking during a visit to the island of Kos on Friday, Papandreou stressed the importance of teamwork. He said that Kos, which has seen a rise in tourists this year, is an example of what can be achieved if ?there is a team effort with common goals.?

Among the reforms that are due to be carried out over the next few weeks is the closure of dozens of public organizations. The task had initially been assigned to Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos but Papandreou has now asked Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos to oversee the process. Venizelos said that he hopes to get Parliament?s approval to shut the organizations down by August 5.