The year 2010 was the time for Greece to make a new start and major changes, Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined on Wednesday in a press conference held to mark the completion of 100 days since ruling PASOK was sworn in as the new government.
“It is now or never for deep change and to this dilemma we answer now,” he said, stressing that Greece was experiencing a crisis of unprecedented proportions, with the public debt and deficit at levels never seen before, one that extended beyond Greece’s borders and threatened the country’s credibility abroad.
He also underlined that this crisis was not just an external one but a symptom of deeper problems for which the way of governance was to blame.
“It is time to change everything, to turn the crisis into an opportunity. We have already shown that we are capable of doing this, that we can be leaders and not laggards,” Papandreou underlined.
The prime minister identified the key problems facing the country as the “sick” state sector, rampant with corruption and wasteful spending, a system that undermined Greece’s productivity, competitiveness and credibility, exposed the country to ridicule abroad and which was treated by a defeated resignation by its own citizens.
Papandreou underlined that the government was determined not to fall into the inertia of its predecessors and had already made important changes at every ministry, while several deep reforms were now in the process of being introduced.
Reviewing his government’s course during its first 100 days, he admitted that some mistakes had been made but stressed that the government was prepared to take corrective action when this proved necessary.
“It’s only when you make no moves that you avoid mistakes,” he added, “but we will not make the even greater mistake of inertia that allows events to pass you by, like our predecessors did.”
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, commenting on the press conference given by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday, said that “the problem is not the first 100 days that were lost but the days that are coming.”
Samaras said that the Greek people remember exactly what the ruling PASOK had promised before the elections “and it is not necessary for us to show how quickly their promises were denied.”
The main opposition party leader said that in PASOK “they had promised increases in the salaries of civil servants and now they are preparing drastic cutbacks with the taxation of their bonuses, they had promised not to increase taxes and they are already announcing a tax raid, they promised to tidy up public administration and they have not yet finished with the appointments of general secretaries and with the duties of deputy ministers and Greece is in danger of losing tens of millions of euros from ESPA that have remained halfway and cannot be received.”
“Our problem is not the government of PASOK failing, it is achieving this by itself. Our problem is to support Greece, its economy, its social cohesion, its security, the morale of ordinary people and we want all the Greeks with us on this course,” Samaras concluded.