ECONOMY

Bureaucracy vs growth

The new fear of the electric iron has engulfed households in the last few days. The otherwise useful and friendly appliance is now a public enemy, after two people apparently died of electrocution while using it in the last 14 months. Since the iron was made in China, the country became the target of other accusations: Chinese clothes aggravate skin problems or Chinese sunglasses hurt the eyes, for instance. Product safety is obviously an important issue, and the state must pay close attention to it. In recent months, many government officials have been quick to act on this issue. However, this particular case is characteristic of the state’s utter inability to handle an extraordinary situation. Quite a few police and judicial authorities had looked into the two deaths caused by the offending iron. People were questioned about the death of the firm’s technician, which was deemed an industrial accident. Authorities also examined the case of the woman killed at home while using the iron. They all did their duty in an honorable and by-the-book way. Local media in Kavala, where the importing company is based, had reported the issue, also doing their duty. Yet no one had grasped the seriousness of the matter, or thought of sounding the alarm for the public. Certainly, a great share of responsibility falls on the importing company, which asked consumers, through press reports, to return the «faulty products» without revealing the whole story. The main issue is the responsibility of the bureaucracy. Here, everyone appears to do his or her duty but no one cares about the big picture. The crucial matter missed was the protection of unsuspecting citizens’ lives. This happened despite the improvement of the Secretariat for Consumer Protection. We often hear about agencies being mobilized, but in practice intentions for consumer protection do not hit the mark and become reality. The same happens with decisions for investment incentives, measures for bolstering competitiveness, and many other useful and essential political decisions. Public administration, in all its forms and versions, emerges as a crucial factor in hampering development and competitiveness. It is therefore important to study the effects and application of laws regarding financial activity. Even initiatives aimed at strengthening business activity often fail in practice to deliver, as in the case of an entrepreneur who recently advised his peers to avoid subsidy programs as they cause greater problems to recipients.