Politicking irks premier

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to warn his ministers to stop tweaking legislation with a view to boosting their parties? popularity ahead of the upcoming elections amid concerns that bickering between PASOK and New Democracy could prevent the interim government from completing its reform task.

Sources told Kathimerini on Wednesday that Papademos is frustrated by the fact that legislation, such as the bill liberalizing the taxi sector, is being used as a vehicle for parties to appeal to their constituents. He is also concerned that a number of ministers appear to be focusing less on their job and more on campaigning for their parties as Greece moves closer to the general elections, which are expected to take place on May 6.

Government spokesmen Pantelis Kapsis said that Papademos is reminding his ministers that they need to focus on completing the legislative work that Greece has agreed to carry out before the elections as part of its loan agreement with the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. ?It is the prime minister?s decision that this government should continue working right up to the last day and we are all trying to achieve this,? he said.

?We want to hand over the ministries and the public sector [to the next government] in the best possible state,? added Kapsis. ?There is no room for petty party political moves.?

The government spokesman admitted that some legislation, which the terms of the new bailout do not require to be submitted before elections, would be set aside for the next government to tackle. This could include legislation on the reform of the public administration and tackling youth unemployment.

One piece of legislation that has been submitted to Parliament, however, is the bill paving the way for the creation of an escrow account into which Greece will have to pay money to be used to repay its debts.

New Democracy took another step in its election preparations by welcoming back Margaritis Tzimas, an MP from Drama, who had been one of the 22 deputies expelled in February for rejecting the new bailout. Another three ousted lawmakers are due to return Thursday after writing to ND leader Antonis Samaras.

However, there was some confusion Wednesday over whether Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas will be a candidate at the upcoming elections. Dimas?s son, Christos, is due to stand for the conservatives.

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