Thursday 23 March 2017

Ex-ECB executive to lead new government

Marcus Bensasson and Maria Petrakis

GREECE is to turn to a former European Central Bank executive and a non-political figure to lead a new interim government.

The former central banker, Lucas Papademos, will accept the post, sources indicated last night.

Prime Minister George Papandreou said a Greek national unity government would be named "soon" and told his ministers to get ready to resign.

Mr Papademos, a former ECB vice-president, is set to be the next prime minister of the debt-laden nation.

Mr Papandreou and his rival, Antonis Samaras, leader of the opposition New Democracy party, agreed on the Greek unity government in order to win resumption of international aid.

The government's mission will be to implement austerity measures agreed at a European Union summit late last month so that a second Greek financing package of €130bn is pushed though. It will then lead the country to elections.

Mr Papademos "certainly speaks the language and shares the philosophy of Greece's EU and ECB counterparts", said Riccardo Barbieri, chief European economist at Mizuho International in London.

"He is someone who comes in without officially representing a party and can set out the issues and help the population understand better what needs to be done."

Mr Papandreou's proposal to hold a referendum on the measures -- which was later withdrawn -- was a "breach of confidence" to the EU, the bloc's Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

"Now this confidence needs to be mended," he said.

European finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, pledged to roll out a bulked-up rescue fund next month, leaving Greece and Italy on the sidelines until then in the fight against the debt crisis.

Greece needs to provide the written acceptance of bailout terms in order to secure an €8bn loan instalment by the end of November, while Italy was pressed to turn budget-cut promises into reality.

Irish Independent

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