NEWS

New PM to set out policy agenda on Monday

Greece?s new prime minister, Lucas Papademos, will present his interim government?s main policy goals in Parliament on Monday ahead of debate that will culminate in a confidence vote on Wednesday.

Papademos is due to speak at 7 p.m. on Monday and the vote is due to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

The new premier met with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday in his first policy talks following the swearing in of the new cabinet on Saturday. After the meeting, Venizelos said that the main target is to secure the next bailout from the EU and the IMF, which will contain 130 billion euros in loans.

The interim administration is only due to serve until the latter stages of February next year but Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos suggested on Saturday that it might stay in a power a little longer.

The new crisis cabinet merges main players in Papandreou’s socialist administration — foremost among them returning Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos — with members of its main rival party, the conservative opposition New Democracy.

It also includes the LAOS party, which won one portfolio in the first showing for a far-right party in government since a military junta was ousted almost four decades ago.

Bitter rivals, the parties have said they will do what is needed for Greece to fulfill commitments it has agreed to with the European Union and International Monetary Fund ahead of an election initially slated for February 19.

But Pangalos said the government could stay in power longer than the initially envisioned 100 days.

“I don’t know if it will be 100 days. It could be 120 or 150. In any case it will last for the first quarter of the year,» Pangalos told state television NET on Saturday.

Pangalos warned voters not to expect relief from the tough tax measures decided earlier this year to qualify for further bailout tranches.

“The manoeuvring space for any relief measures in 2012 is very narrow,» he said.

In his first statement as prime minister, Papademos vowed to fulfill a deal forged last month with euro zone leaders that will release an 8 billion euro loan Athens needs to avoid running out of cash next month plus longer-term funding later.

“The government’s main task is to implement the decisions, the conclusions of the October 26th and 27th euro zone summit meeting, and secondly to put into force the economic policies which come together with these decisions,» he said.

A source from the so-called «troika» of the EU, the IMF and the ECB told Reuters inspectors would visit Athens early next week to speak with the new government and would clear the next tranche only when it pledged to meet its commitments.

Papademos said his first task would be to tackle runaway unemployment. He must also start chipping away at a debt load of more than 30,000 euros for each of Greece’s 10.8 million people which, at 162 percent of annual output, is almost double the EU average.

[Kathimerini English Edition