NEWS

PASOK talks up economy

Everything possible is being done to get the Greek economy into shape, the government insisted yesterday, as it prepared itself for an onslaught from New Democracy over its handling of public finances. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Economy Minister Louka Katseli both insisted that PASOK is taking all the necessary steps to bring Greece’s economy back in line with eurozone regulations just a day after the government agreed to conform with European Union deficit limits in just three years, instead of four as earlier promised. «I think it is perfectly clear we’re doing what needs to be done to bring the deficit down and control the public debt,» Papaconstantinou told Bloomberg, rejecting a quote attributed to European Central Bank executive board member Juergen Stark in which he said that markets are «deluding themselves» if they think other European Union countries will help to rescue Greece. «It is the prime minister’s decision, as well as that of the rest of government, that we do whatever is needed for this country,» said Katseli. «This government will definitely succeed.» Earlier, Prime Minister George Papandreou said that his administration would be carrying out serious reforms this year. «The year 2010 will be one of major change,» he said. «We will continue on this course with certainty. We know where we are going and the necessary changes will be made.» Apart from being under pressure from European officials to revive the Greek economy, the government is also bracing itself for an attack from New Democracy. The opposition party has so far been largely silent on the government’s economic policies but sources have told Kathimerini that the conservatives will soon start launching attacks on PASOK’s handling of public finances. Sources said ND leader Antonis Samaras sees this as the Socialists’ weak spot and that by shifting attention to the economy, he will also draw the spotlight away from the parliamentary inquiries into five corruption scandals which are expected to at least put the conservatives on the defensive, if not cause damage to the party.