NEWS

PM to convene Cabinet on prior actions

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was to hold a cabinet meeting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, following the mini reshuffle carried out on Wednesday, to discuss pending ?prior actions? that still have to be taken by the government in order for foreign creditors to approve the release of additional rescue loans.

Ministers are also expected to discuss plans to overhaul public administration, sources said. A new initiative ? to be outlined in legislation to be drawn up in coming weeks ? aims to streamline the departments of most ministries by a third as part of a broader cost-cutting drive. Most ministries will see their departments trimmed by between 30 and 36 percent, with all the corresponding cutbacks to personnel. The Development Ministry is to suffer the largest cuts, in the region of 46 percent.

Incoming Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou indicated on Thursday, during her handover to university professor George Babiniotis, that she might have made some mistakes during her term as Education Minister but that this was not for wanting of trying. ?Those who do not work, do not make mistakes,? she said.

Meanwhile Michalis Chrysochoidis, who has reassumed the post of Citizens? Protection Minister for the third time, suggested that his predecessor Christos Papoutsis, who resigned last month to stand in the upcoming leadership contest for Socialist PASOK, was to blame for certain shortcomings in the security forces. Specifically Chrysochoidis took issue with the fact that fewer members of the DIAS rapid response squad are patrolling the streets of the capital. ?Eighteen months ago, when I left this ministry, there were 2,000 men and women in this squad,? Chrysochoidis told reporters. ?Now there are just 1,300,? he said, querying why hundreds of officers were ?sitting behind desks.? The minister also expressed concern about the increasing degeneration of central Athens.