The government has an opportunity for a new beginning to fix the problems of the Greek economy and return to growth, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday, after the swearing-in ceremony of the newly appointed ministers at the Presidential Mansion, which followed Friday’s cabinet reshuffle.
The new cabinet was sworn in before President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Saturday afternoon at the Presidential Mansion, in the presence of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The new cabinet includes 18 ministries and 49 ministers, including the prime minister. The first meeting is expected to take place on Sunday.
“We have the opportunity for a new beginning, to achieve the necessary impetus that will help us complete the last critical steps of a marathon which will allow us to reach a glade. The glade of growth, which is forecast to be very high for 2017, but ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’,” Tsipras said.
“We also need to correct malfunctions, change attitudes, to speed up all those necessary actions that will help our country to finally come out of this perennial crisis,” he added and noted the new cabinet reflects a renewal in “ages, faces and structures”.
He also thanked the ministers who left the government for their work.
Afterwards Prime Minister Tsipras met with the younger members of the government to discuss their portfolios and the government’s immediate tasks, government sources said on Saturday.
“Proceed with courage in assuming your duties. Society expects you to be bearers of the new, not only because of your age, but with your work in government,” he told the ministers, according to the sources.
The government will help the country exit from the crisis and set it on a path towards growth, the Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Minister Nikos Pappas said on Saturday outside the Presidential Mansion where hw was sworn-in at his new post.
Concerningt his new duties, Pappas said it is a demanding portfolio and one where Greece can play a leading role. “Greece has a very crucial geographical location; it could become a trade and transit hub, and to achieve this it must have reliable networks. We are ready to work hard.”
Speaking earlier to ANA, he described the reshuffle as one of “renewal, growth and reconstruction”.
“It is a step for the country to continue to the next phase. The priorities and symbolisms are clear; there are many new faces entering the government. We get to work immediately,” he added.
Olga Gerovasili, the new Administrative Reconstruction Minister, told ANA earlier that the new government’s aim is to promote stable policies for economic growth, debt relief and social justice.
“From a different position, at a crucial time for the country, with all our strength to escape the deadlock,” she said after her swearing-in.
Asked about his new position, State Minister Christoforos Vernardakis told ANA his first priority is to form a strong task force which will produce the government’s policies.
“Firstly I need to be briefed and secondly we must make a very good team that will be able to carry out quickly all this work of strategic planning, coordination of government policies and highlighting new issues,” he said. “The first thing as of Monday is to form a strong task force which will be the heart of the production of the government’s policy.”
On his side, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris told the news agency the government reshuffle has two elements: to complete the second program review quickly so that, if things go well, Greece can tap the markets next year.
The second element is that “everyone realizes that the crucial issue is restarting the economy through productive reconstruction,” adding that growth will come through investment programs so that state funds can collect revenues.
Outgoing Labour Minister and new Alternate Minister for European Affairs George Katrougalos said negotiations with Greece’s lenders on labour issues which have started as part of the country’s second program review will continue “as if he was there” because the new labour minister participated in the negotiations.
Thirty-year-old Efi Ahtsioglou, who is taking over as Labour Minister after the government reshuffle on Friday night, was the director of Katrougalos’ office and participated in the talks.
“Continuation of the negotiations is ensured in the best way, because the new minister was my office director – of my own choice – with direct participation in the negotiations. Therefore, the negotiation continues as if I was there. I am very optimistic that we will achieve our goal to return to collective bargaining in order for Greece to return to European normalcy,” he told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
Newly-appointed Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) she will continue the work done by her predecessor, Tryfon Alexiadis, on fighting tax evasion and preparing legislation on promoting use of plastic money.
“I must continue and complete the important work done by Tryfon Alexiadis on the tax evasion lists and the preparation of the provisions on plastic money,” the minister responsible for tax issues told ANA.
“We’re at a difficult historical moment and the aim is to ease the citizens’ daily life. We’ll work wioth all our strength and we’ll make it,” she added.