NEWS

Karamanlis wants MPs to be humble

Parliament gave Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s New Democracy government a vote of confidence early yesterday, with all 165 members of the ruling party voting in favor and all 135 opposition party members voting against the new government. At the first meeting of ND’s parliamentary group since the March 7 elections, Karamanlis stressed that his government would aim to meet the everyday needs of citizens. And, as he had demanded of his Cabinet immediately after the elections, he told the party’s deputies that their actions must be guided by humility. «We are not dependent on anyone, we do not owe anything to anyone,» Karamanlis said. «Humility is a way of life and everyday behavior. Whatever smacks of ostentation annoys me. But citizens, too, are revolted by it because examples of the arrogance of power are still fresh,» he declared, keeping up his attack on the former government. «If we manage to embody modesty, we will have done a great service to our country and made a contribution of historical significance.» Karamanlis demanded that deputies «be near to every citizen, wherever he or she lives, and especially those citizens who have the greatest need.» State Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos, in his first briefing as government spokesman, spelled out the seven priorities aimed at helping society’s weaker members. These are: the 1-5 percent tax on pensions will be scrapped from July 1; the monthly EKAS supplement for the lowest-income pensioners will be increased, as will farmers’ pensions; the problem of banks’ compound interest on loans will be solved, with no debtor having to pay more than three times the amount borrowed; families with three children will receive special benefits that those with four or more enjoyed; people will be able to visit the doctor of their choice; a list limiting the medicines that state services can prescribe will be scrapped; contract workers in the state sector will be hired permanently. Roussopoulos said the Inner Cabinet will comprise the ministers of interior, foreign affairs, economy, development and education.