Transparency is key

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday defended his government’s seven-month record in power, including its decision to review public deficit figures, and emphasized that he wants transparency to dominate his administration’s policies and actions. Karamanlis, speaking at a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of New Democracy, heavily criticized the Socialist opposition for the way they conducted business while in power. He said his government would preside over a period where the State would be «re-founded,» doing away with past practices of «bureaucracy and indifference» and forming a state that was not politicized along party lines. «The end of mismanagement, a limit on waste and the imposition of total transparency are our immediate priorities,» said Karamanlis. Taking advantage of the public deficit review and the pending parliamentary investigation into the purchase of weapons systems by the previous, PASOK government, Karamanlis played up comparisons between what he described as a corruption-tainted administration and his fresh government looking to put things right. The prime minister pointed to changes the ruling conservatives have made to procurement rules in the military and health service, among other institutions, as evidence that they are ready to sweep the corridors of power clean. Aware of criticism aimed at the government for its handling of the alteration of deficit figures, Karamanlis emphasized that party politics had no bearing on the situation. «The truth could not be hidden any longer. It does not serve society’s interests to falsify reality. It’s our obligation to to respond to real needs, to the actual facts,» he said. In the wake of Wednesday’s draft budget, Karamanlis said his government was aiming to fight waste of public funds, drastically limit tax evasion, cut defense spending and use public funds honestly. Earlier, opposition leader George Papandreou said he would demand that the parliamentary committee which will shortly be set up to look into the arms cases conduct its business rapidly. «This procedure needs to be quick and immediate so the country is not dragged through shadows and scandals,» he said. PASOK is likely to ask that the committee ends its investigation within three months, and that it extends its probe into any arms deals the conservatives have made.