Cabinet resumes reform task

Cabinet is due to meet Thursday to discuss more structural reforms as the interim government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos tries to conclude another of the tasks it has been set before elections can be called.

Ministers will discuss two draft laws Thursday. One relates to the prolonged effort to liberalize taxi services -- which has proved a thorn in the side of this and the previous government -- and the other to labor reform.

It is expected that the taxi liberalization bill will not foresee the issuing of any new licenses in Attica while elsewhere their numbers will be calculated according to the local population and environmental criteria. It is likely to allow new licenses to be issued for seven- and eight-seaters. The liberalization of closed professions is one of the goals that the Papademos government must achieve before the country can go to the polls.

Government sources told Kathimerini Wednesday that the aim is to tie up the loose ends in Greece’s economic program as quickly as possible so that elections are held no later than May 6.

Filippos Sachinidis is due to take part in Thursday’s Cabinet meeting in his new role as finance minister. Sachinidis, promoted from deputy minister, was sworn in Wednesday after Papademos decided that it was the simplest solution to the problem created by Evangelos Venizelos’s departure so he could lead PASOK. Papademos toyed with the idea of appointing Interior Minister Tassos Giannitsis but he would then have had to be replaced as well.

Sources said that Papademos rather than Sachinidis would attend the meetings of eurozone finance ministers that will take place until the interim government stands down. Papademos believes that by attending the Eurogroup gatherings, he will ease the pressure on Sachinidis but also avoid eurozone officials having to adjust to working with a new minister.

One of those Papademos will meet at the next Eurogroup, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, had words of encouragement for Greece Wednesday, arguing that Athens should be given time to implement its reform program.

“Greece will have to first of all follow the path of sustainable economic growth,” he said during a news conference. “We will support the efforts for economic growth through the provision of European and bilateral assistance.” 

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