PM steadfast on spending cuts

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday said that his government would stick to a plan to curb state spending to offset the impact of the global financial crisis but reassured Greeks that there would be no new taxes. Speaking on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels where delegates discussed ways to tackle the fallout from the financial crisis, Karamanlis said it was important to realize «that we are experiencing extraordinary circumstances» and that some restrictions would be unavoidable. However he ruled out the imposition of new taxes despite widespread speculation that the government would resort to this measure. He said also that the country had «no problem servicing its debt.» The premier took the opportunity provided by the Brussels press conference to dampen speculation about early elections. Meanwhile sources told Kathimerini that Karamanlis had been considering the possibility of holding surprise polls in June, when European Parliament elections are scheduled, but that he had reconsidered following a series of embarassing developments for the government including the carbon-copy helicopter escape from Korydallos Prison of two notorious convicts. Opposition parties were quick to criticize the government for its stance at the EU summit and its approach toward dealing with the impacts of the economic crisis. The main opposition PASOK party said, «Greece cannot emerge from this crisis with restrictive policies; it needs growth and credibility which the current government does not have.» The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) spoke of a «Greek disaster in Brussels.» Far-right LAOS accused the government of «begging for charity from the European Union,» while the Communist Party (KKE) said it predicted a «savage attack on workers’ incomes.»

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