NEWS

Bureaucracy is riddled with party favoritism

European Union integration has to a great extent found Greece unprepared, with the country’s administrative system, state bodies, public education and regional development bedeviled by shortages, endemic weaknesses, and huge delays. State administration in particular is dominated by decades-old party favoritism that has caused moral and structural dissolution in the sector (which, after all, was rationally organized at the outset, though somewhat starved of means). Party favoritism has meant gratifying the worst civil servants while frustrating the best. It has drained creative forces from the country which were essential for a proper start in 1981, when Greece joined the then-EEC. Greece thereafter not only failed to lay the foundations for a modern, high-quality state administration. It began its course in Europe in accordance with the logic of relentless partisan politics that led to the dissolution of the state administration – which was riddled with weaknesses and shortcomings from the outset. In the ensuing two decades, state administration has neither strengthened its strong points, nor improved the work capabilities of its employees, nor added sectors enabling the country to handle the new parameters arising from its membership of the European Union, and to strengthen its productive base. Neither the structures, nor the organization nor the personnel are in place for a steady course within the highly competitive environment of the European Union. For example: – The administrative machinery is having difficulty in setting up the hundreds of programs needed to absorb the community funds of the Third Community Support Framework, due to the lack of knowledge and expertise; – The National Land Registry project has ground to a halt largely due to the fact that its sheer size is beyond the capabilities of the administrative and technical bodies which undertook it; – Companies with aspirations to boost growth are often forced to scotch those plans due to outdated, time-consuming and frustrating bureaucratic procedures. Moreover, in the process they ascertain the shortage of the scientists, researchers and technicians needed to advance modern productive activities, due to the huge weaknesses of the state education system. Economic stability, growth, convergence and competiveness in Europe are terms bandied about in the political arena, as is talk of imminent and far-reaching reforms which will shortly change the country’s image. But how can these be achieved without proper administration or personnel? If the state administration is not radically changed in accordance with a nationwide scheme which will provide for staff training that is not dependent on political favor, then Greece will grind to halt one of these days, whatever the international environment. With state administration the way it is now, Greece will not be able to build up its productive base alongside other member states of Europe.