PM voices concern on graft struggle

Efforts to combat corruption in Greece have so far not been as successful as the government has wanted and much more needs to be done to combat graft in public services, the prime minister told businessmen yesterday, according to sources. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with representatives of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) in Athens. These businessmen told him they were still experiencing problems in their dealings with tax officials. The prime minister said he was aware that some civil servants were exploiting situations for their own gain. According to sources, Karamanlis said that it was proving difficult to uncover cases of corruption and to find enough evidence to convict bureaucrats suspected of graft. The ruling conservatives have continuously emphasized their determination to stamp out corruption, which was one of their pre-election pledges, but many voters believe the government’s impact has been limited. A bill submitted to Parliament yesterday aims to give more powers to public inspectors to pursue suspect corrupt officials at tax and town-planning offices. Karamanlis indicated to the SVVE representatives that there would be more draft laws of this type to come. However, sources said that Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, who also attended the meeting, told the businessmen that they also had to play their part in lessening corruption as a number of companies are involved in tax dodging.

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