Premier wants quicker reforms

Prime Minister George Papandreou is disappointed with the pace of implementation of structural reforms and has briefed his ministers on a new plan to improve coordination within the government ahead of the next scheduled inspection by Greece’s creditors in March, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The new plan, which is to be overseen by Papandreou, reportedly foresees the premier’s deputy, Theodoros Pangalos, assuming a role focused on coordinating government activities aimed at boosting growth. So far, Pangalos’s brief has been to regularly evaluate the performance of all ministries. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou will remain at the helm of the fiscal reform effort and continue monitoring the implementation of specific measures agreed upon in the memorandum signed in May between Greece and its international creditors – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. According to sources, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis will be entrusted with the role of coordinating government activities that do not fall under the remit of the memorandum. It is thought that one of Ragousis’s tasks will be the monitoring of an «alternative» memorandum featuring positive reforms aimed at boosting growth and improving public services to offset the impact of austerity measures. According to sources, Papandreou hopes that this alternative memorandum – or «national plan» – could provide a basis for finding common ground with other political parties. Earlier this week, Papandreou asked his ministers to submit a list of five priorities for this national plan. These lists are to be perused by Ragousis tomorrow, sources said. This reorganization of responsibilities was interpreted yesterday by some commentators as, in effect, a promotion of Ragousis who, along with Papaconstantinou, will be one of the government machine’s key drivers. Addressing a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Papandreou said 2011 would be «a year of major reforms» following a year of difficult political decisions. He praised his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen for proposing painful austerity measures without considering the political cost. «He did not abandon ship, leaving the next government with a ticking time bomb,» he said, referring to his own conservative predecessor Costas Karamanlis.