PM presses for answers

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday accused PASOK leader George Papandreou of avoiding tough questions about his party’s economic policy ahead of the October 4 general elections. Karamanlis publicly demanded answers to four questions from Papandreou yesterday but suggested that the PASOK leader is intentionally avoiding TV appearances before Sunday so he does not have to answer them. As has been the case throughout this campaign, the premier attempted to expose PASOK’s plans for the economy as nothing more than wishful thinking. He called on Papandreou to explain where he will find what New Democracy claims are the 10 billion euros needed to fund the Socialists’ planned spending increases. He asked whether such expenditures wouldn’t send the public debt and deficit spiraling out of control. Karamanlis also demanded to know how much PASOK, if elected, plans to increase taxes on individuals and medium-sized companies to cover its spending plans before suggesting that the lack of a comprehensive plan would create an even worse downturn in the Greek economy and require a PASOK government to soon take even tougher measures than those required now. On a visit to Peristeri, western Athens, which is a vital neighborhood in the control for Athens’s «B» electoral district, Karamanlis insisted that he had given specific proposals compared to Papandreou’s «nebulous» suggestions. «From their side, we hear only vagueness and wishful thinking,» he said. «It is no coincidence that Mr Papandreou is avoiding any more televised debates and interviews with journalists.» Speaking in Thessaloniki last night, the PASOK leader did not respond to the premier’s questions and instead continued to ask the electorate to give his center-left party a clear mandate to govern. «Only a government with a strong majority in Parliament can guarantee the major changes that Greece needs,» he said. «We will, of course, not be able to change the country in our first 100 days but at least we can give it some space to breathe.»