PM stays on course for more reforms

A day after giving his annual speech on the Greek economy, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called on the country yesterday to give his government’s reforms time to pay dividends and fuel job growth after announcing that public servants will no longer enjoy the cushion of permanent work status. Presenting his conservative government’s economic policies for the next 12 months at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Saturday, Karamanlis remained focused on delivering what he defined as necessary reforms to keep the economy growing and internationally competitive. Improving the financial health of state-controlled enterprises and lifting the permanent work status for employees, he said, will help ease the burden on the state budget and the tax payer. «Public utilities will operate under a new framework. New contracts will be regulated by labor laws,» Karamanlis said. The change, affecting tens of thousands of workers, is seen as a bold political step and one that many unions vow to fight. In a bid to ease possible tension from workers’ groups, Karamanlis promised employees at troubled Olympic Airlines that they will have their jobs protected. He warned of tough times ahead for the airline as the EU is currently investigating whether alleged subsidies were illegally paid to it. A ruling against it could push it into financial collapse. More on the reforms front is expected to come from changes to the pension system, however, Karamanlis did not provide further details on the issue. Opposition political parties described the measures as offering false hope for the future without any specific direction.