Premier urges restraint

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis warned his ministers yesterday not to get carried away with making promises to voters that the government cannot keep, as the conservatives delivered their budget forecast for 2009. The government sees a slowing of growth to 2.7 percent for next year but expects unemployment to remain stable at 7.5 percent. Speaking to the ministerial council before Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis unveiled the 2009 budget, Karamanlis made it clear that he does not want New Democracy to begin making ambitious pledges while the global economic crisis looms. During the week, Karamanlis lambasted the opposition parties for what he termed «demagoguery» and underlined that his government faced an «historic» set of economic problems to handle. «We have to deal with the crisis in a way that will have the least possible impact on the real economy and citizens, especially low-income groups and the middle class,» said Karamanlis. The prime minister, who began touring the countryside last weekend, will continue his charm offensive this weekend with a visit to Volos, where he will inspect local industry and public works. Shortly after the meeting of the ministerial council, Karamanlis was pressured in Parliament by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Alekos Alavanos to devise policies that were friendly to Greece’s youngsters. «The seemingly generous policies for the young does not signal genuine interests, rather it suggests a submission to party political goals,» Karamanlis said in response. «At a time when there is zero visibility in economic terms, greater responsibility and actual results are called for, not attempts to make an impression. «We need real solutions not just wishes,» the prime minister told Alavanos, adding that some 20 million people could lose their jobs around the world next year.