NEWS

PM to defend first 100 days

Prime Minister George Papandreou will attempt today to defend his government’s first 100 days in office and suggest that PASOK is about to embark on an effort to restructure Greece, spearheaded by its plan for the economy, which the premier discussed yesterday with the new European Union president. Papandreou met in Athens with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy as the Belgian sought to obtain firsthand information about how Greece plans to bring its public debt and deficit in line with eurozone regulations. «Greece faces very substantial economic and fiscal challenges and it is a matter of common interest for the European Union as a whole and more particularly for the members of the eurozone that Greece manages to meet those challenges,» said Van Rompuy. «Resolute fiscal consolidation should start without delay in 2010 and the deficit should be brought below 3 percent [of GDP] by the end of 2012,» he said. «This commitment needs to be supported by concrete and credible measures with a front-loading of the effort,» he added. After attempting to convince Van Rompuy of his government’s ability to deal with the problems at hand, Papandreou will today try to satisfy the electorate that PASOK is up to the job. Papandreou’s task has been made more complicated by further sniping about the government’s economic policies from within his own party. The secretary of PASOK’s parliamentary group, Christos Papoutsis, attacked the government’s decision to change the tax on parental property concessions. «Mr Papoutsis is an MP and we cannot stop him fulfilling this role but the government must act with discipline,» said a high-ranking government official who chose to remain anonymous.