NEWS

More economic measures are not ruled out

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis defended his government’s economic policy yesterday and refused to rule out the possibility that more measures would be adopted this year to tackle Greece’s rising public debt and deficit. Speaking at the end of a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels, the premier ruled out the possibility that any new measures might include more taxes on business and banks. Karamanlis described as «socially just» the decision this week to impose a one-off tax of between 1,000 and 5,000 euros on people earning more than 60,000 euros and to freeze the wages of any public servants earning more than 1,700 euros. He then went on to suggest that further similar measures might be necessary in the future. «The crisis is developing and demands constant monitoring and adjustments to be made wherever they are needed,» he said. «I take decisions that serve the general interest and I pay no regard to the political cost or any impact this has on short-term popularity,» added the prime minister. Karamanlis also attempted to tread carefully when asked whether he backed the decision of some Greek companies to reduce working hours and salaries. «Such decisions are not part of my principles but I appreciate that during periods of crisis extraordinary measures are taken,» he said. «Therefore, I could accept such a decision as long as it is taken with the understanding of the employees and is only a short-term measure.» The prime minister also ruled out a proposal by PASOK to make businesses and banks pay more tax. «It is not the time for this, as the main issue is to boost liquidity in the market,» he said. Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Euro Group of finance ministers, said yesterday that he saw no risk of any eurozone member defaulting, when asked specifically about the economies of Ireland and Greece.