NEWS

PM looks to end year on a high

Attempting to inject some positive spirit into his government before the end of the year, Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday insisted that PASOK would not only manage Greece’s economic problems but would see through some vital reforms in 2010 despite the setbacks it has suffered so far. Papandreou said that the government does not plan any major changes to the budget that was approved in Parliament before Christmas nor is he concerned whether the European Commission might reject Greece’s Stability and Growth Plan. «We will go forward based on everything that we have announced so far,» said Papandreou in a specially arranged news conference. Papandreou underlined his belief that Greece’s economic problems are different from the crises unfolding in other countries and are largely a result of corruption and ineffective management of resources. The prime minister did not rule out the possibility of a rise in VAT rates, saying that there would be a public consultation on the issue. Papandreou was repeatedly questioned about his decision not to appoint ministry general secretaries directly and instead favor a more protracted system of accepting online applications and then interviewing candidates. As a result of applying this process, some officials have yet to be appointed, despite PASOK having come to power on October 4. «What we are doing is a revolution,» said Papandreou. «This has not happened before in the 200 years that the Greek state has existed. I can wait a year, not just three months for the process to be completed.» The prime minister said that his government plans to introduce similar, more transparent methods, throughout the public sector.