Policy freeze till Olympics are finished

As the burdens of the previous years begin to emerge, prompting emergency borrowing in April, senior members of the government have begun to say that the economic situation will have to be evaluated anew in the autumn, after the Olympic Games. Greece has already borrowed 30 billion euros this year, and Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas has not explained the reasons for his hasty conclusion recently of loans through two international banking groups without open tender. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is said to believe that policy must start out from a new basis in September. «The party is over,» a senior government source said, noting that the Greek people have to be told the truth and prepared for stricter measures. The ballooning costs of the Olympics have prompted two senior ministers – National Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias – to question the wisdom of undertaking the Olympics. Wim Duisenberg, the former head of the European Central Bank and now president of the European Association for Banking History, commented on this in an interview with Kathimerini yesterday. «The answer to this is difficult,» he said. «The Greeks will be at the center of the world’s interest. It is in their hands to grab the opportunity and exploit this. The infrastructure projects – the big arteries, the installations, the airport – will remain for future use and constitute a great challenge for you,» he said. «The problems will come after the projects and the Games are over, when the previous take-off of work and development ends. I hope that your government and banking system will work to get over the slowdown, using the infrastructure for other uses. That is the key.» Athens 2004 head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said in an interview with Eleftheros Typos yesterday. «We are at the center of the world because of the Olympic Games. Whoever ignores all these benefits does not understand reality,» she said. «The balance of the Games is already positive and will be even more positive when they are successful. That is why we must leave the griping aside.»