Greek bureaucracy adds another army

Bureaucracy, the citizen-troubling monster that also hurts economic activity, starts with good intentions. State agencies impose tougher procedures and ask for more documents because they are trying to protect themselves from people who want to cheat the system. Until recently, a photocopy shop couldn’t open before getting a permit from the urban planning authority. The government is now trying to reduce the number of documents needed for licensing new enterprises or for changing business addresses or purposes. Tax authorities are also asking citizens for more documents for the same purposes. They, too, have good intentions because they want to spot fake companies issuing counterfeit or nominal invoices. Here’s the reasoning: Since there are a few who evade checks, everyone ought to be hassled. Some logic. And that is not the sole example of bureaucratic madness. There are more examples. The Greek state has created a new form of bureaucracy – the citizens’ information and advice centers (KEP) – aimed at helping citizens with bureaucracy. Instead of working to reduce the documents required of citizens (often for no reason), the state has created a new army of employees whose mission is to serve hassled citizens faster. Instead of abolishing bureaucracy, its existence is facilitated and justified! As for the example of the tax authorities, until now companies could inform them about a change of address either electronically or by fax. Now they can be certain a deputy minister will order employees to visit and see with their own eyes whether there actually is a company in the address mentioned. That is, if there are any staff available.

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