Samaras Wants Fast Reforms Action

ATHENS – With a one-billion euro ($1.34 billion) loan still pending, Greece is cranking up its drive to finish more than 600 reforms that have gone unfinished the last four years, demanded by its international creditors.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will send the Parliament controlled by his New Democracy Conservatives and its partner the PASOK Socialists a single multi-bill lumping all the so-called “prior actions” together with the aim of having a slimmed-down summer session ram through approva.

There are still five major measures that haven’t been acted on, including a plan to allow development in forests as well as the coast and green space and public parks; further reduction of civil servant jobs; putting the pension funds of police and the armed forces into the single auxiliary social security fund ETEAM; abolishing third-party taxes on ferry and theater tickets, and allowing political parties to get funding from private enterprises as well as state coffers but requiring them to be more transparent as to who’s contributing.

The government wants approval by August 8, before the House’s summer session breaks and to appease its lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).

Samaras had Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis sent a message to the administration’s ministers urging them to step up the pace of implementing lesser measures the Troika wants as well before it returns for another review in mid-September.

The Premier reportedly wants to show that Greece is ready to govern itself without the Troika when the bailouts run out next year and he wants their support to offer some tax breaks to lessen the effects of harsh austerity measures he imposed on its orders.

Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi insisted an end to austerity is on the horizon, along with recovery from a crushing economic crisis. “The memorandum is coming to an end,” she said, noting that Athens would honor its commitments to the Troika.

In a speech to Greek industrialists, Hardouvelis also stressed that Greece would make good on reforms. He also said economic policy is the government’s job and blasted the courts for a series of decisions that some pay cuts were unconstitutional and said the judiciary should not interfere.