During a cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday, the government approved a plan to speed up core structural reforms. Addressing the meeting, Papandreou stressed that "it is very important to send a clear message […] that we are proceeding rapidly with the priorities that we have set, for ourselves, for our country, for our credibility."
On his part, Government’s Vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters that "Greece is not the pariah of the European Union; it is not a permanent sore and problem. It is an equal, competitive country that has a very serious problem regarding its public debt and fiscal deficit. We can and shall overcome this, but not without carrying out the structural reforms in full."
Eight Priorities for Action
In specific, the cabinet decided that future action will focus on eight pillars. The first one touches upon the urgent need for privatizations, given that € 5 billion need to be raised by 2011 and € 28 billion by 2014.
The second important decision is to move ahead with public organizations’ modernization, meaning, potential mergers, downsizing, or even closing down a hefty number of such bodies. Third target will be to immediately activate labour reserve lists in the public sector. The domestic labour market must be submitted to an extensive make over, including new measures in work contracts, opening 'closed-shop' professions, extending periods of unpaid leaves etc. Furthermore, in three weeks from now, the government will present a new national tax system.
In addition, the government pledged to implement the public sector single payment system, which will eventually reduce payment costs by 3%. Drastic changes will also occur in the field of fiscal administration (revenue and expenditure planning). Finally, healthcare spending will be further contained through mechanisms such as the newly applied drug pricing mechanism, e-prescription etc.