Gov’t bill takes aim at red tape

Gov’t bill takes aim at red tape

Outlining his vision for the future of Greece’s public administration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Parliament on Tuesday that citizens will no longer be “hostages of bureaucracy.” 

Speaking before a Parliament vote Wednesday night on a bill which the government says aims to streamline the administration and promote transparency, Mitsotakis said that from now on “only one signature by a relevant authority’s director will suffice to start a new business, a new profession or staff hospitals and schools.”

“We still have a state with a big head that still causes tears of despair among its citizens,” he said in a debate which saw him spar fiercely with opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

He added that the bill is the first methodical reorganization and systematization of the government’s actions.

“Government becomes collective, but at the same time effective and fast: Ministries, instead of acting as separate fiefdoms, integrate their actions into a common programming. And the cabinet will from now on vote on everything,” he said, adding that “public administration is being disassociated from party politics.”

He noted that given that transactions between citizens and the state are now almost entirely conducted electronically, the experience of long queues at public services will be a thing of the past.

The new bill, which was passed with votes of ruling New Democracy MPs, also aims to separate the roles of the government from the state administration to ensure the state’s continuity.

According to the legislation, a new National Transparency Authority will act as an umbrella for disparate agencies tasked with tackling graft, such as the general inspectors of public administration and public works, as well as streamlining the legislative process.

In a similar vein, each ministry will be assigned an executive general secretary who will not be a political appointment, but will be selected via the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP).

Moreover, Mitstotakis said the number of civil servants’ transfers to offices directly under the prime minister has been reduced from 161 to 108, down 12 percent, adding that general and special secretariats will also be reduced from 93 to 58.

For his part, opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said the bill proves that Mitsotakis is showing in “advance that you do not trust your ministers.”

He also accused the government of creating the “false impression” that the previous SYRIZA government had increased the number of civil servant transfers.

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