NEWS

Samaras calls for elections, low tax

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras called for early elections during his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Saturday as he ruled out any possibility of forming a coalition government with PASOK and insisted that if in power he would pursue a policy of lower taxes and fewer public sector sackings.

?The only solution to today?s dead end is elections,? Samaras said, adding that coalition governments were ?unstable and fragile.?

Samaras attacked the government?s plan to put thousands of civil servants on reduced salaries as a standby labor force. The conservatives advocate a similar plan but argue that PASOK is using the labor reserve as a back door to sackings.

?It is only a labor reserve in name as it leads to mass sackings a year later,? said Samaras, adding that ND would place civil servants on standby for three or six years, during which they would be retrained.

The conservative chief also reiterated his commitment to lower taxes, proposing reduced income tax and value-added tax to return to the same levels it was at two years ago. He said that the government?s tax increases had failed because revenues had fallen over the last two years. Samaras said that as prime minister he would put these proposals to Greece?s lenders in a bid to renegotiate its loan agreement.

?We do not disagree on the targets, we disagree with the methods,? he said. ?We do not want any letup in the effort being made.?

Speaking at a marathon news conference yesterday, Samaras also attacked the government over its proposed emergency real estate tax, arguing that Greeks were being made to pay for PASOK?s inefficiency. ?People are making sacrifices and the government is ineffective.?