NEWS

Government to play the economy card

The economy will play a leading role in the government’s effort to turn around the political situation in the runup to elections, and the ruling PASOK party is beginning to play a greater role in government issues in order to achieve this end. Yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and PASOK general secretary Michalis Chrysochoidis. Christodoulakis briefed the party supremo in detail on the issues that have to be dealt with, given that the government wants to present a «charter» on real convergence with the rest of the EU in September. Government policy is going to be focused on setting out the targets which the Greek economy and society have to meet by 2008; at the same time, it will have to propose the tools that will make this possible. «The convergence charter, in essence, is the continuation of the country’s development dynamic, as this was shaped and established in the previous years. It will include, however, specific commitments regarding employment, social inclusion and social policy,» Christodoulakis said after the meeting. «PASOK’s philosophy is based on these four concepts: development, employment, competitiveness and social solidarity and cohesion. And not only will we show that we served them and that substantial progress was made in previous years, but, above all, that this is the strong card that the country will play in the next four years,» he said. A leading role in this effort will be played by the funds provided by the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII). The committee overseeing this will meet in Hania today and the issue will be the focus of several meetings chaired by the prime minister. Figures show that the absorption of funds by the end of June comes to 22 percent of the whole of CSFIII from the 18 percent it was at the end of 2002. Aside from playing its economic card, the government has also challenged parties to join it in a debate for a change to the electoral law and, in a show of transparency, has called on its MPs to reveal their activities on the Athens Stock Exchange, calling on the opposition New Democracy party to do the same.