PM talking tough over public utility reforms

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made it very clear to Greece’s public utilities leaders that they must stay focused on realizing the reforms he is trying to push through in the sector, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The government this week extended a deadline for public utilities to comply with the new rules, which include requiring those in charge of each company to present a business plan detailing how the organization can increase efficiency. The new regulations were supposed to be implemented by the end of next month but it now looks like the government will give the utilities an extra few weeks to comply. The prime minister, however, has told company leaders that no further delays will be tolerated. Sources said the ruling conservatives hope public utilities will conform to government reforms by the summer. The government is also planning to include tax cuts, especially for the middle class, in its economic reform package. The tax cuts could boost New Democracy in the runup to the next general election. Some ministers have allegedly been reluctant to force the reforms through in the utilities for which they are responsible, but Karamanlis has also put pressure on them to comply. Transport Minister Michalis Liapis, said to be one of those resistant to the reforms, seemed keener yesterday to talk about change. «Reforms without dialogue and social consent are not possible,» said Liapis, encouraging workers to put aside their political beliefs and embrace the changes. He also warned that staff at the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) who were not pulling their weight would be fired.