Public overhaul tasked to French

The Herculean task of overhauling the country?s bloated public administration was appointed to a team of French officials due to France?s successful implementation of three reform drives in the past 15 years as well as the relative lack of bureaucracy in the French state system, an official of the previous government has told Kathimerini.

Asked why Greek authorities opted for the French rather than British model for example, the official noted that apart from having the know-how and technical insights, the French have less red tape than the British. ?We are closer to the British culture, which wants everything in writing, even the obvious, though we don?t share the advantages of the British system,? the official said, noting that the latter has ?a strong backbone? as the civil servants that staff it are not replaced with every change of government, as is the case in Greece. ?Here every government official builds a power structure around him, which often serves to undermine the natural hierarchy or operates in parallel to it,? the official said. This environment is not conducive to change. ?We don?t feel the need for change. Our basic problem is this, not technical support, wherever that may come from,? he added.

An official of the Administrative Reform Ministry, who also asked to remain anonymous, told Kathimerini that the two main barriers to progress were a lack of political will and the established mentality of most civil servants who are happy paper-pushing in exchange for a safe salary.

Bureaucracy is a third problem — along with complex laws and an ever-changing tax system — averting would be investments, he said. ?The system doesn?t work,? he said.

On Thursday the leader of leftist SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, whose party was neck and neck with conservative New Democracy in the last opinion polls, declared that a SYRIZA-led government would break off the current cooperation with French experts brought to Greece by the EU Task Force. ?We do not need any task force to tell us what to do,? Tsipras said.

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