Reforms accelerated

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis promised an acceleration of reforms during the second half of his four-year term and defended his government’s record, saying that, in contrast to its Socialist predecessor, it has «not understated the difficulties in order to construct a virtual reality.» «The positive results have already appeared. Unemployment has already started to decline, investment is recovering, the budget deficit has declined and the growth rate is higher than the European average,» Karamanlis told a cabinet meeting commemorating the second anniversary of New Democracy’s win at the last national election, which ended more than 10 years of uninterrupted PASOK rule. Referring to his government’s priorities for the remaining half of its term, Karamanlis singled out the reform of the notoriously inefficient state-controlled public utilities, which, he said, will help curtail misuse of taxpayers’ money. He also referred to public-private partnerships that will help build big infrastructure projects with private capital, privatizations, simplified procedures for the setup of new enterprises and lower taxation rates for individuals. Referring to frequent criticism over interministerial squabbles, Karamanlis called on his ministers to improve their communication and policy coordination. Each minister then took turns outlining the priorities for his or her department. Opposition parties criticized Karamanlis and his government. PASOK party secretary Marilisa Xenoyiannakopoulou said the government was an «autocratic» one, committed to «unilaterally neoliberal» policies. «We have issued a book of all the promises broken and lies told to the Greek people,» said Xenoyiannakopoulou, brandishing a 156-page book called «The Unreliability Bible,» which focused on Karamanlis’s extravagant pre-election promises, few of which he has fulfilled. «The government is ready to unleash a second wave of anti-people measures,» said the Central Committee of the Communist Party (KKE) in a statement, which warned of the government’s intentions to erode hard-earned employee rights. KKE and former Left Coalition president Nikos Constantopoulos said the current government resembled the one previously run by PASOK.