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Samaras will privatize, he will not dismiss

06 July 2012 / 23:07:34  GRReporter
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Privatizations, use of public property and deregulation had been promised by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in his first speech, which outlined the priorities of his government. The privatization of OSE and the energy market, along with the development of a concession project for port and road infrastructure is the main task of the new government. Samaras announced he was planning to develop infrastructure and construction projects in the coastal areas around the capital from Faliro to Sounio, where there is mainly public property.

"We do not want to change the targets of the recovery programme, we want to change all measures that are deepening the recession," Samaras said in connection with the forthcoming talks with the supervisory Troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. He promised that Greece would not make unilateral changes in the recovery programme agreed with the lenders after the signing of the bailout agreement. However, it became clear from his speech that the government would not insist on further cuts in pensions and salaries. Attempts would be made to use the European funds under the National Strategic Programme for Development (EMPA), which would be spent for major projects.

The blue government supported by PASOK and New Democracy intends to reschedule the debts of Greeks, which, according to Samaras, have been suffocating households in recent years. He promised to extend the period of social payments for the unemployed from one to two years and proposed a series of measures to reduce costs in the public sector - cancellation of double pensions for deputies, abolition of state cars for deputies and the like.

Strong applause broke out in parliament when the prime minister said he would deduct the obligations of businessmen by the amounts the state owes them from unreturned VAT. This measure will mostly affect exporters who rely on the tax return to make new investments. "It is not acceptable to close companies because the state owes money," the Prime Minister said concisely. Samaras said he was planning to introduce an electronic register of the property status of taxpayers in the country, which would contain data about their deposits in banks. He explained that now was the last chance for citizens to legalize their deposits and funds exported abroad.

What was not heard in the Prime Minister’s speech was the promise of reducing VAT on tourism, which had been widely circulated during the election campaigns. Not a word was said about Greece's commitments to reduce the number of civil servants by 150 thousand by 2015. On the contrary, it is obvious that Samaras, like his predecessor George Papandreou, will by all means try to "skip" layoffs in state administration. Samaras may not be willing to get down to work as far as immediate changes are concerned, but he is planning to make a special commission to investigate the finances of political parties in Greece from 1974 to present. If the commission finds that, the declared income of a politician does not meet his or her standard of living (like Tsochatzopoulos’), he or she will be investigated by the economic prosecution. Samaras requested a change in the constitution in order to remove parliamentary immunity and promised to change the law protecting ministers from being liable before the law.

As for foreign policy, Antonis Samaras said he would begin a systematic preparation for the establishment of Greece’s exclusive economic zone, which would accelerate the exploitation of energy resources. The government will seek to strengthen its ties with traditional allies of the country. It will seek new regional supporters, committed to the country’s issues of foreign policy. "Greece is traditionally keeping its good relations with all its neighbours. But it is also seeking to enhance the country's role as a factor of stability in the region," the blue prime minister said.

Tags: PoliticsAntonis SamarasGovernment programmeLayoffsPrivatizationGreece
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