NEWS

Premier stands by reforms

The government is determined to push ahead with its reforms agenda, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday, despite polls showing that the majority of Greeks believe they will come out losers from the changes. Karamanlis, whose conservative government was re-elected for a second term in September last year, said New Democracy «will not abandon its reforms policy.» «Changes and reforms are issues for our party. We have been instructed to continue on this difficult road,» he told Parliament. Government reforms, which have recently focused on introducing changes to the pension system to help make it more viable, have not been met warmly by the majority of Greeks. According to a recent survey, conducted by Public Issue for Kathimerini, 73 percent of people feel that the changes being brought in by the conservatives will «probably harm» them. Only 6 percent think they will benefit from the reforms, which include the merging of dozens of pension funds and some trimming back of social security benefits. Senior government sources have said they believe the disapproval rating will drop as soon as the conservatives work on the next set of reforms, including the privatization of key state enterprises, such as OTE telecom and the ports of Athens and Thessaloniki. Karamanlis yesterday also hit out at PASOK leader George Papandreou, who proposed on Wednesday a vote of no confidence against the government in a bid to put pressure on the conservatives. «The battle over who will make a more impressive stance among opposition parties does not affect us,» said the prime minister. The vote of no confidence is unlikely to be carried, as the government has 151 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament as well as the support of independent deputy Costas Koukodimos. PASOK would need to garner 151 votes to succeed in its efforts. The government has accused PASOK of simply trailing behind the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which last week proposed a referendum on the pension reform bill. «A ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ cannot provide answers to such a complex problem,» added Karamanlis.