Rebels fail to budge Simitis on disclosure

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is determined to implement his decision to ask all the deputies of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) to disclose their transactions on the Athens Stock Exchange, despite the refusal by at least 26 of them to do so, the government spokesman said yesterday. Opposition to Simitis’s request surfaced on Thursday, when 23 deputies signed a letter to Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis saying they felt «insulted» by Simitis’s suggestions that they allow an investigation into their transactions, adding that they had already registered such transactions as part of an «income provenance» declaration required of all MPs, civil servants and certain professional categories, such as journalists. A 24th deputy, Sifis Valyrakis, made a separate declaration to the same effect. Yesterday, two more PASOK MPs, Kyriakos Spyriounis, a retired army general, and Theodoros Katsanevas, son-in-law of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou, signed the letter. Simitis appears to believe that this opposition does not limit itself to his specific request but will extend to his electoral reform proposals. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas hinted as much yesterday. «There are (different) views and an ongoing dialogue but, in any case, the changes the country and our society need must be made and will be made. We will go ahead with reforms,» he said, evading the question of possible sanctions against rebels. Simitis appears ready to accept certain changes in the proposed electoral law, which, in any case, will not be implemented in the coming general elections. But he is determined to push through his proposal to ban MPs from trading on the stock market. Simitis wants to silence all allegations of corruption against his government. Critics, however, point out that by sacrificing a former minister and a party official, both close to him, because their bourse transactions were high – with no evidence of wrongdoing – he may have blundered into casting a pall of illegality over all such activity. Opposition parties want the investigation of transactions of officeholders, both appointed and elected.