In a country notorious for official red tape, the Interior Ministry said yesterday that recent efforts aimed at slashing time-consuming paperwork are starting to bear fruit as residents seeking different state-issued certificates in the last few months have been spared some 70,000 bureaucratic hurdles. The ministry said that, according to the instructions it sent out last September, a growing number of public services now request paperwork directly from other governmental departments rather than obligating residents to do all the running around. Greece has one of the most heavily staffed governmental sectors in the 25-member European Union. The problem of excessive bureaucracy is an issue that successive governments have promised to tackle but have yet to achieve. According to the Interior Ministry, government services obtained more than 73,000 copies of criminal records via inter-departmental communication.