NEWS

PASOK to blame on deficit, PM says

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday accused the previous government of leaving fiscal chaos in its wake, but he declared confidence in Greece’s potential for development and said his government would carry out its campaign promises. «There are serious problems in all sectors. The fiscal management of past years was problematic. The government distorted all the budgets, so as to display smaller deficits and public debt,» Karamanlis told Parliament in a debate on the economy. Karamanlis condemned PASOK for mismanagement, irresponsibility and cover-ups. He said the budget for Olympic preparations would come to 2.4 billion euros, from the original 1.4 billion euros. «Specially tailored tenders bloated costs at the State’s expense and favored only a few firms,» he charged. State hospital debts soared to 2 billion euros in the three years since being written off, he said. On defense procurements, he said, «This is in the hands of the judiciary.» Karamanlis said 7.5 billion euros would be saved by cutting down on waste. «We will fulfill all our promises. All our policy is aimed at creating a truly social state,» he said. PASOK leader George Papandreou said that the government’s recalculation of the deficit had led to the EU’s essentially placing the economy under supervision. Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said the «judicial, legislative and executive powers» were obliged to investigate the stock exchange boom and bust of 2000. The security technical infrastructure is to be delivered by May 28, and for that reason cannot be tested until June, though IOC experts are confident it won’t be a problem. Transport will remain a worry until the Games – Oswald specifically cited the Sydney Games as an example of initial transport problems resolved quickly – although the journalists were assured that both the tram and the suburban railway will be «commercially operational» by July 15. With both these backbones of the new transport system still incomplete with three months to go, Marton Simitsek of Athens 2004 interjected that a major transport simulation exercise had been undertaken this week, with great success – though any such success remains virtual, and thus partial.