NEWS

PASOK ups the ante on economy

As Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis prepared for talks with party leaders on Thursday about the fallout from the economic crisis, the leader of opposition PASOK, George Papandreou, appeared to pull the carpet out from under his feet, drafting a question for submission in Parliament on Friday that quizzes the PM about how he plans to counter the «asphyxiating» lack of credit in the market. Meanwhile, Karamanlis met with his aides to brief them on the outcome of last weekend’s European Union crisis summit and discuss how his administration can restrict debt while boosting state coffers. After the meeting, New Democracy secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said consensus was «the least that could be demanded» at such a difficult time. But Papandreou, who is due to meet with Karamanlis on Thursday, made it clear that PASOK would not play ball. He noted that the «market has frozen, unemployment is rising and costs remain high, despite the fall in demand.» He also remarked that «banks no longer execute their role as providers of liquidity in the real economy.» Meanwhile, PASOK spokesperson Giorgos Papaconstantinou accused the government of «lying» with its budget figures for 2008 and said this left no scope for consensus between the two main parties. The comment prompted a swift response from Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, who said the figures had been submitted to the European Commission and that PASOK had «discovered another nonexistent issue.» In an interview with Kathimerini published on Sunday, Papandreou said that if PASOK were elected, it would create a «state agency» to guide the banking system. He added that it would set up a think tank, bringing together «the best minds at home and abroad,» to reform the country’s public administration. Papandreou said he would aim to establish a «strong, lean and dynamic state» and would «not hesitate to resort to nationalizations if necessary.»