Week of reforms, protests

Draft laws relaxing labor laws and introducing wage cuts at public enterprises, known as DEKOs, are due to be submitted to a parliamentary committee today before being voted through Parliament tomorrow as Greece rushes to keep up with the pace of reforms it has been set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The bills’ submission coincides with the start of several days of protests by unions, starting with a work stoppage on the public transport network between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. today. In an attempt to build consensus on the reforms, Prime Minister George Papandreou will tomorrow hold meetings with the leaders of the opposition parties. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said he will boycott the talks. Speaking to Sunday’s Typos newspaper, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said he would let Papandreou know about his objections to the way PASOK is running the economy. «I am interested in a change of policy that will create the conditions for growth immediately,» he said. «Nothing else will do.» Samaras’s stance is unlikely to impress IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn who both met with him last week and stressed the need for consensus on the structural reforms. Both men repeated their position in interviews with Sunday’s Kathimerini. Strauss-Kahn said that Greece finds itself at «a crossroad» with regard to implementing the EU-IMF program. «The most significant issue is for there to be growth again and for jobs to be created,» he said. «This will not be easy but if Greece can keep up the momentum of the reforms, investors will realize the country’s commitment to change and trust will grow.» He identified tourism, energy and logistics as three areas of possible growth and suggested that the liberalization of closed professions would also boost the economy. Rehn suggested that wages in the private sector might need to come down as part of an effort to make Greece more competitive. «It is important that private sector wages develop in a way that competitiveness of prices and costs are restored in the Greek economy,» he said. Both men forecast that Greece would begin to see growth toward the end of next year.

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