NEWS

PM hails party’s efforts, pushes reforms

Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday credited ministers and deputies of his ruling Socialist party with bringing about the positive outcome of last week?s eurozone summit, which saw the country clinch a fresh debt deal with its lenders, and condemned the main conservative opposition for failing to back the government?s austerity drive.

?We have established our participation at the core of the European Union,? Papandreou told a session of PASOK?s parliamentary group.

?Armed with the tough decisions that we made and the conviction that we shall see them through, we accomplished everything that the opposition accused us of failing to negotiate, and in fact more than that,? Papandreou said in an attack on New Democracy, which has repeatedly criticized the government?s policies for relying too much on tax increases.

In a clear dig at ND leader Antonis Samaras, the premier noted that while his government had been struggling to save the country from bankruptcy, and while the Greek people had been obliged to accept salary and pension cuts, ?certain people had been dreaming of becoming a prime minister of the drachma,? referring to Greece?s old currency.

Commenting later, ND spokesman Yiannis Michelakis lashed out at the premier. ?After leading the country to the edge of collapse, he is now lying and cursing to save himself from collapse,? Michelakis said.

In his speech to PASOK cadres, Papandreou emphasized that it was time to introduce all the major reforms that have been put on hold for decades.

The main goal, he said, was to create primary surpluses in order to stop what he referred to as a ?deficit hemorrhage.?

Sources said the premier had sent letters to all his ministers, listing their priority tasks to be completed by the end of August, usually a month of rest for Greek politicians.

For the Finance Ministry, the top priority is finalizing the government?s stance on a new tax collection system and drafting an action plan, while the priority for the Development and Competitiveness Ministry is speeding up the absorption of European Union subsidies.

For the Administrative Reform and e-Governance Ministry, the main priority is to finalize a new salary structure and evaluation process for civil servants, and the Justice Ministry has been charged with completing legislation aimed at fast-tracking major cases.

One of the Environment Ministry?s chief tasks will be to resolve the standoff in Keratea, southeastern Attica, where residents vehemently oppose plans for the construction of a large landfill to hold the capital?s trash.