Greece pledges corruption clean-up of politicians

ATHENS, May 15 (BestGrowthStock) – The Greek government promised to
clean up corruption among politicians to restore public trust,
but does not want to destabilise political life in the country
as it struggles with a debt crisis that has shaken the euro.

Greece has been rocked by a series of major protests against
government measures to cut the country’s bulging deficit. A key
demand of the protesters has been a crackdown on corrupt
politicians they blame for mismanaging Greece’s economy.

“What people want, and the government certainly shares that
desire, is for there to be a clean-up both at the political and
social level, so that relations between each other clear up and
confidence is restored,” government spokesman George Petalotis
told a weekly newspaper published on Saturday.

For decades Greeks have tolerated endemic petty corruption
and political graft. But the current debt crisis has forced the
government to push through a painful austerity plan in return
for 110 billion euros ($140 billion) in EU and IMF aid, and
deliver on its promise to boost government transparency.

“There is such a climate that there is no option for the
government other than moving ahead with fighting tax evasion and
cleaning up politics,” Konstantinos Routzounis, head of Kappa
Research pollster, told Reuters.

Several political scandals, such as a land-swap deal that
cost the state millions of euros, known as Vatopedi, and a
bribes-for-contract affair involving German firm Siemens
(SIEGn.DE: ), rocked the country under the previous conservative
government.

Parliamentary investigative committees are looking into the
scandals and are expected to yield results by the end of May and
June, respectively. The Justice Ministry also is promising to
probe the income of top officials.

“Certainly, there is the necessary political will and
consent that the Siemens and Vatopedi cases that hurt our
country’s political life are cleared out,” Petalotis said.

“But in no case will we fall into the trap of penalising the
country’s political life,” he added. “In no case will we allow
blood to be shed in the name of popularism and petty politics.”

The latest sign of government attempts to increase its
revenue was the publication this week of the names of 68
high-earning doctors found guilty of tax evasion.

On Friday, the Finance Ministry said 178,000 wage earners
misled authorities by under-reporting their income or failing to
declare any last year. This meant the state lost valuable taxes
on undeclared income of about 700 million euros.

Investment Analysis

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Jon Hemming and
Michael Roddy)

Greece pledges corruption clean-up of politicians