“We are trying to get the country out of the ICU and tidy up the economy,” Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stated in Parliament on Friday, regarding the state budget for 2010.
He also announced plans for a meeting of political party leaders chaired by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias to discuss matters of transparency and corruption, as soon as main opposition New Democracy had elected its new leader.
The state budget for 2010 tabled in the Greek parliament envisages measures to cut the country’s fiscal deficit to a single-digit number as a percentage of GDP and to contain public debt.
The draft budget also aims to cut state overspending, limit public spending, promote permanent measures to boost state revenues through a drastic clamp down on tax evasion, raise spending on investments, boost job positions and support incomes through pay rises above the annual inflation rate.
The government’s economic policy will also focus on implementing its policy commitments, such as tabling a draft bill ensuring the independence of the National Statistical Service (ESYE), reforming the system of drafting and executing state budgets and promoting a draft legislation for the reform of the taxation system and boosting transparency in public finances.
In addressing Parliament Papandreou underlined that the government had taken over at one of the most difficult times for the country since the restoration of democracy in 1974, a time when it was at a crucial turning point.
He also emphasised that the underlying problem was not the global economic crisis, which had simply served to intensify existing problems.
Stressing that the government was not seeking to use the policies of the previous government as a scapegoat for the mistakes of the past, he said the first priority would be to protect what was most valuable in Greece, which was its people.
Calling on all to participate and not just ‘tolerate’, Papandreou said that the government’s aim was two-fold: to allow the country to emerge from the crisis and to strike the problems at their roots.
One such area that lay at the root of problems, the premier repeated, was the state and the political system, which would continue to entrap the country and lead it to new crises unless there were major reforms.
The budget tabled by the government on Friday was a first step in this radical new course for Greece, which would be combined with the tidying up of public finances in order to ensure the best use of tax-payers’ money.
These would be followed by major reforms to taxation, the political system and the operation of the state in order to promote transparency and ensure state respect for citizens, he added.
The government has set as a top priority efforts to deal with an economic crisis and returning the Greek economy to a growth trend by adopting a bold and credible fiscal management framework. The draft budget’s introductory report stressed that restoring confidence in public finances was a precondition for economic growth and prosperity, releasing funds to finance growth and social programs.
The government also aims that a new tax policy would offer a simple, stable tax framework guaranteeing justice in the tax system.