Inflation in sights of party leaders

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday asked the business world to help combat inflation while PASOK leader George Papandreou, in an apparent change of direction, took the unusual step of calling on the government to «liberalize the markets» to tackle rising prices. Speaking at the annual congress of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Karamanlis said that the government’s economic reforms, including its privatization program, have helped protect the Greek economy against global turbulence but said that businesses had to help fight inflation, fueled by rising energy prices. «The crucial challenges of the international environment demand an increased sense of social responsibility from all the political powers, unions and all businesses,» he said. «We have to form a strong front against phenomena of profiteering and fraud… so that products reaching consumers are high-quality but with low prices.» Meanwhile, Papandreou caused a stir by adopting a much more centrist stance than usual as he appealed to tanker truck drivers to end their strike and called for the creation of a free market for goods. He also suggested that Greece should do more to approach multinational companies that could help improve technology and know-how in the country. Papandreou also insisted that he is not a «statist» but that he is opposed to the sale of OTE telecom as it is a company of strategic importance in which the state should retain a controlling stake.