NEWS

Papandreou attacks ND’s first six months in power

The New Democracy government’s administration during its first six months in power, according to PASOK leader George Papandreou, has been «directionless and without a plan» and marked by «steps backward» in the economy. In a speech Saturday night at the 69th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, the PASOK president launched an attack on ND’s policy across the board, particularly that of its leader Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. He accused ND of undermining achievements in the economic sector and of creating a partisan state and of setting its sights too low, of simply administering an existing situation and even of taking steps backward, creating as a result a climate of insecurity within the market and among the citizenry. Economic inventory Summing up his view of the ND government’s first six months, Papandreou referred to what he said were the catastrophic effects of the recent economic inventory, claiming Greece had lost some of the credibility acquired over the last few years within the European Union, and culminating in the recent decision of European Union finance ministers regarding Greece’s deficit. Papandreou also wondered how the government would be able to reduce the deficit from the current 5.3 percent to the desired 3 percent within a year while maintaining the current high growth rates, essentially raising the question of where the cuts would be made. Secondly, the PASOK president accused the government of a complete inability to control the market and restrict high prices, saying its approach was not in line with the social sensibility of the centrist party ND professes to be. Olympic venues Papandreou also said the government had no specific plan for the post-Olympic use of infrastructure works and predicted it would either present a general, short-term plan or else start selling off the «huge dowry» under conditions that would be less than transparent. He said the government had created a partisan state and claimed that under PASOK the State had been «pluralistic,» in contrast to ND’s tactic of exploiting every mistake or malfunction in order to replace staff with its own supporters. ND, he added, had come to power without any specific platform; during all its years in opposition, he charged, it had been solely concerned with winning the March 7 elections. PASOK’s proposal At the same time, Papandreou outlined PASOK’s own «new» economic platform summed up in the slogan «Growth with an investment in people,» an economy based on investing in human capital; creating a healthy economic environment without partisan politics or rewards for party supporters; with investment in new technology and innovation; support for the country’s comparative advantages, particularly shipping and tourism; further investments in modern infrastructure for telecommunications and transport to create conditions for competitive farming with a focus on new products. In the same vein, Papandreou spoke of a «new contract for growth and cohesion,» with security for the weaker sectors of Greek society. Despite several proposals presented to him, Papandreou avoided any commitment regarding a «minimum guaranteed income,» but placed special emphasis on education and health.