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Greece Pledges to Accelerate Austerity

The Greek government, under the asphyxiating pressure of its European creditors, has decided in only a few hours what – according to local observers – it had not wanted to decide since the first days after its electoral victory.
The government under Socialist prime minister George Papandreou, during a cabinet meeting, decided to speed up privatisations, to deal rapidly and decisively with problems concerning the public administration and to promote mergers or the closing of useless state agencies, as well as to entirely liberalise all closed professions.
It is a matter of ”definitive measures”, in the words of Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, a term indicating the indecisiveness previously marking the government’s actions. As concerns privatisations, the minister reiterated the government’s commitment to raise the five billion euros by the end of the year that he had pledged to ”troika” representatives, from the privatisation of some enterprises in which the state holds a stake to the utilisation of frequencies for mobile telephony and other things.
He also announced that today he would be gathering together the Inter-Ministerial Privatisations Commission to decide on the transfer of some state property to the new Office for Valorisation recently set up for this purpose.
As concerns the public administration, Venizelos said that the cabinet had decided to adopt a new retribution system for state employees, ”a single, fair and transparent one based on equality and professionalism”, while as concerns ”useless agencies”, he confirmed that many will be abolished or undergo mergers without ruling out the possibility of laying off some employees.
As concerns the issue of closed professions, the minister clearly implied that all decisions made up until now would be re-examined. ”If some gaps remain as concerns the liberalisation of closed professions, they will all be filled.
Where there is a gap of a doubt,” Venizelos said, ”it will be filled to give young people hope and a chance.”

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