Samaras eyes savings from waste rather than cuts

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has proposed not making any more cuts in order to meet the fiscal targets set by the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund but to make the savings by tackling waste and corruption in the public sector. The conservative chief said that 11.7 billion euros in savings that Greece’s lenders are demanding for 2013 and 2014 could come from tackling waste. However, he said that Greece would need the fiscal adjustment program, which is due to run until the end of 2014, to be extended by one or two years. Samaras made the proposal on Wednesday during an online interview with journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou. He used the interview to launch a fresh attack on SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras for its anti-bailout positions.

“This is not just about the euro or the drachma; it is about Europe or the drachma,” he said. Following the collapse in talks between ND and SYRIZA aimed at setting up a televised debate between Samaras and Tsipras, representatives of all the parties that were voted into Parliament on May 6 met on Wednesday to discuss a debate between all the party leaders. Again, no agreement was reached but talks may resume.

The possibility of a Samaras vs Tsipras debate has not been ruled out either, even though the issue has become a sore point between the two parties, who continued to blame each other for the terms of the televised discussion not being finalized. “Since SYRIZA does not want to debate with New Democracy, it can debate with its factions,” said New Democracy’s deputy spokesman Giorgos Mouroutis. “Maybe that way they can agree on some common positions.”

At a meeting of the Chamber of Small Industries in Athens, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos stressed the need for parties to cooperate after the June 17 polls, given that none is likely to have a clear mandate. “You cannot govern if you have half or two-thirds of Greeks opposing you,” he said. “People are asking for cooperation, the numbers demand cooperation, but cooperation that is politically balanced and realistic and can help provide solutions to the problems, not make them worse.”

PASOK sources said the Socialists would stress the party’s potentially crucial role in the formation of a unity government. They added that the party would not attempt to hold any public rallies in the final stretch of the campaign. A speech by Venizelos in Syntagma Square before the May 6 elections was poorly attended.  

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