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PM Samaras tells cabinet 'we are close to our target'
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, addressing a cabinet meeting on Thursday evening, stressed that "we are close to our target" and that "Greece is being reborn now, the prospect will be visible to all tomorrow, the Greek people are already seeing something changing and shall begin to hope again soon".
The prime minister referred to the "successful negotiating" with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders, he spoke of the positive developments in the economy and drew the attention of his ministers to that "there must be no slackening as well as that we must not spoil things for petty disagreements".
Insisting on the optimistic message, Samaras said "a few months ago the conditions were really gloomy, we managed the difficult measures well, the time has come now for us to manage the first alleviations, the first small reliefs and there are indications that things are going well. We cannot make mistakes now."
Referring to the negotiating with the troika, he stressed that:
- whatever fiscal vacuum was detected, new measures were not necessary.
- there were for the first time tax rate alleviations mainly in the real estate tax received through PPC (the Public Power Corporation).
- it was recognised for the first time that we are within the programme's targets.
- for the first time many instalments were enacted for the payment of private citizens' debts to the tax authority and to banks.
- the payment of the state's overdue debts to private citizens is going ahead while in the Finance ministry's next bill an arrangement is being promoted for the offsetting of debts to and from the state.
Samaras also focused on the pending issues that still exist, with the most important being the moving of 25,000 employees by the end of the year, meaning the double evaluation of posts and staff in the entire public sector. In these frameworks, 15,000 will be removed by the end of 2014, of whom 4,000 by the end of this year and 2,000 of them in the near future. The prime minister stressed that for those removed an equal number of new will be hired through ASEP, something that will contribute to the public sector's qualitative upgrading.
The prime minister also spoke of the anomalies being observed "fortunately not in many cases when amendments to bills are submitted without the necessary consultations having preceded between the Parliamentary groups of the three parties", that support the government.
He also drew the attention of his ministers to that when they have a legislative initiative to inform in time all three parties supporting the government through the relevant representatives of the Parliamentary groups and to consult with each other.
Lastly, Samaras referred to the positive signs:
- unemployment is halting
- over half of the enterprises of average and large size are considering investments
- big foreign businesses are coming to Greece
- the big projects are starting again
- the recapitalization of banks will being completed in a few days
- the returning of the export VAT will begin immediately after Easter
- this year's tourism will surpass every precedent.