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Greek PM defends government's decision on drastic reforms

07-05-2010 09:07 BJT

ATHENS, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou defended his government's decision to proceed to drastic changes in the social security and pension system and urged people to act with responsibility in an interview published by Greek newspaper "Eleftherotypia" on Sunday.

The Greek parliament is scheduled to vote for the bill of pension system reform on July 8 while the Greek unions called on a new nation-wide strike on the same day.

"The ratification of the bill amounts to a vote of responsibility by members of parliament towards Greek society and future generations," stressed Papandreou in the interview.

"What is at stake is the future of the country," added the Greek prime minister, noting that there are already results from the sacrifices Greek people were called to make this year in order to overcome a severe economic crisis that hit the country in late 2009.

The bill will raise the minimum retirement age to 65 years for all Greek employees in the public and private sector and introduce a levy of three to 10 percent for pensions above 1,400 euros per month. It is promoted by the government as the only solution to rescue the social security and pension system from collapse.

Apart from the labor unions which have called for a new general strike on July 8, main opposition parties, even some members of the ruling socialist PASOK party oppose to changes, talking of unbearable and unfair burdens to low and medium-income families.

Asked to comment on persistent scenarios printed in Greek media regarding possible early general elections this autumn, only one year after the elections that brought PASOK to power, Papandreou categorically denied the idea.

"The only thing that concerns us is the work that needs to be done, the reforms that must be implemented in Greece," said Papandreou, adding that there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is money available and that his government is determined to put things in order and fight wide spread corruption.

The ruling party has a majority of 157 seats in the 300-member parliament. Analysts believe that despite reactions among socialist members of parliament, the bill will be ratified.

The bill on the first package of austerity measures this spring was ratified, but three PASOK parliamentarians who voted against, were expelled from the parliamentary group of the ruling party.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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