Authorities given 50 days to deal with citizens’ cases

Citizens should be entitled to prompt consideration of their cases by state and local authorities, a Ministry of Interior circular says. According to the circular, citizens making requests of any nature from state and local authorities should receive a considered reply within 50 days, at most, after having submitted all the necessary documents. A law voted on earlier this year, calls for the payment of compensation to citizens who fail to receive a timely response to their requests. The circular specifies that the measure will be effective for applications submitted after May 24. The size of the compensation will be determined by commissions that will take account of any financial or moral damage inflicted on the citizen in question as well as any report submitted by the Ombudsman. The compensation must be paid within one month of the commission’s decision. Difficult cases Sometimes a case may be too complicated to deal with within 50 days. In that case, the state or local authority must contact the citizen, in writing, at least five days before the expiration of the 50-day period, listing the reasons why delay is inevitable, specifying the official in charge of the case and including that person’s telephone number for further information. The 50-day limit is not applied in the case the State or local authority has been taken to court by a citizen or, if the resolution of the case requires the presence of the individual in question in front of a collective body and he or she fails to appear for some reason. The same circular provides for the creation of «quality and productivity units» whose task will be to upgrade the services offered by setting specific, measurable goals and assessing performance. It is not known whether the powerful civil servants’ unions have been consulted in advance on this. These units must be created by next month. Each ministry is to draft a presidential decree instituting these units. The new government under Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has pledged to make significant savings from the improvement of state administrations’ operations. Yesterday, the prime minister, along with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, also considered ways of cutting red tape for enterprises and making it easier for new ones to be created.