Greece promises to act on overdue reforms
ATHENS (Reuters) - The Greek government has promised to revive long-delayed reforms ranging from cutting red tape to making better use of small regional airports as part of efforts to appease inspectors from foreign lenders visiting Athens.
In a 10-point plan, the government pledged on Thursday to make Greece more business-friendly by simplifying notoriously long licensing procedures, cutting bureaucracy, boosting competition and setting up a new export strategy.
"These commitments are within the agreement of the political leaders supporting the government," Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis told reporters.
"Through these reforms we want to send a message to all that Greece is determined to reverse the climate, change course and win the bet."
The reform pledge came after Greek political leaders late on Wednesday struck a deal on 11.5 billion euros worth of austerity cuts for the next two years in a bid to convince skeptical lenders that Athens deserves aid to avoid looming bankruptcy.
Hatzidakis also promised to relaunch four major road projects that would create 30,000 jobs, step up the privatization of its railway monopoly, liberalize its regional bus transport system, and make it easier to become licensed as an electrician or plumber, among other professions.
Greece has angered its lenders by consistently failing to make headway on a long list of reform targets, but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's conservative-led government has vowed to win back lost credibility by stepping up the reform drive.
The European Union and International Monetary Fund have warned they will cut off funding - putting the country at risk of crashing out of the euro - if it fails to deliver on its promises to reform and hit targets under its bailout.
The European Commission welcomed Greece's plan for structural reforms and urged the country to act on them.
"We now expect determined implementation of all of Greece's reform commitments in full respect of (European) Union law, and in particular single market rules," the EU's executive arm said in a statement.
(Reporting by Athens newsroom; writing by Deepa Babington; editing by Stephen Nisbet)