New Greek PM unveils cabinet

ATHENS: Greece's new socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou formally took office on Tuesday and named two technocrats in the key economy and finance ministries to fulfil promises of steering the economy out of recession.

Papandreou, whose party won a landslide victory in elections on Sunday, was sworn in by Archbishop Ieronymos, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, in a ceremony watched by President Karolos Papoulias.

The premier, whose party won 44 percent to sweep Karamanlis' conservatives out of power, signed decrees on Tuesday that created an economy super-ministry with powers over development and shipping, a vital source of Greece's income.

His Pasok party's finance spokeswoman, Louka Katseli, was named to take on the economy ministry.

Katselis is a 57-year-old economics professor who taught at Yale University in the United States and worked at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

He also named Georges Papaconstantinou, a 49-year-old graduate of the London School of Economics, to the finance ministry.

Papandreou also created four new ministries: environment, energy and climate change, police and civil protecttion, finance and infrastructures, a party spokesman said.

Greece's other big earner, tourism, was placed under the culture ministry, which oversees archaeological sites and museums.

The upgraded citizen's protection ministry comes into effect to improve policing and fire prevention after two massive wildfire disasters in the space of two years.

Papandreou has promised a 100-day plan to stimulate the economy by creating jobs and cleaning up public finances.

He says there will be new laws to redistribute income to the poor, bolster public investment and clamp down on corruption. Part of the stimulus will also be to order salary and pension hikes above the rate of inflation next year.

But Papandreou must also quickly reach agreement with the European Union's executive commission over Greece's huge budget deficit.

Public debt, one of the highest in Europe, is set to exceed 100 percent of gross domestic product this year, and the national economy has come to a near standstill after years of steady growth.

Papandreou, a former foreign minister who engineered a rapprochement with neighbour and traditional rival Turkey, could again assume that portfolio.

Meanwhile Anna Diamantopoulou, a 50-year-old former European commissioner for employment, is another potential minister, possibly at foreign affairs or education, while former Athens prefect Fofi Gennimata, 45, is touted for the health ministry.

Two of the prime minister's closest associates, his party spokesman George Papakonstantinou and Pasok secretary Yiannis Ragousis, are also set to receive senior posts.

NET state television reported that Papakonstantinou, 49, would be given a separate finance ministry tasked with tax collecting while Katseli coordinates long-term economic planning.

Ragousis, a 43-year-old economist and former mayor of the island of Paros, could be given the interior ministry responsible for local administration and elections.

Ministers in Pasok's last administration, which organised the 2004 Athens Olympics, may also be offered jobs, including Papandreou's old challenger for the party leadership, Evangelos Venizelos.