PM backs statistics probe

Prime Minister George Papandreou says he is open to reaching consensus with other political parties but is not prepared to abandon plans to investigate how Greece’s economic statistics were handled by the previous conservative administration, which has become one of the biggest obstacles to finding common ground with New Democracy. Speaking to Sunday’s Kathimerini, the premier said that he remains «open to all ideas» that opposition parties have to offer even though they have campaigned against the memorandum his government signed with the European Union and the International Monetary fund for 110 billion euros in emergency loans. «On my part, the door is open, and will always remain so,» he said. «A positive approach from all those involved would be helpful for the country, especially on big and crucial issues such as the changes we want to make in the education sector and on other issues such as privatizations and the reform of DEKOs [public enterprises].» Papandreou, however, said that he is not willing to sacrifice a parliamentary investigation into how Greece’s deficit figures became wholly unreliable in 2009 in particular in order to appease ND, which is opposed to such a probe. Since the local elections earlier this month, PASOK has come under pressure to ditch plans for the probe amid fears it will polarize Greece’s political scene. «I am really surprised that we talk of a tense political atmosphere and attribute this to an effort to dispense justice,» said the premier. «Is this what the Greek people have asked for? Do they not want light to be shed and political responsibilities to be attributed in cases that have troubled the country and rocked public opinion?» Papandreou also reassured Greeks and investors that the country is not in danger of failing to meet the criteria necessary to secure the release of the next tranche of the EU-IMF loan in March 2011. «We have no reason to be concerned about the next installment nor about the final outcome of our battle, as long as we continue the effort on which we have embarked,» he said. Papandreou said that one of his government’s greatest challenges over the next few weeks will be to reform public enterprises, such as the Hellenic Railways Organization and the Public Power Corporation.