Graft in public sector is thriving

Town planning offices have become a focal point for corruption in the public sector, but graft has also been found in other areas for the first time, according to a report made public yesterday. The Public Administration Inspectors’ Agency said that it looked into 1,018 suspected cases of corruption last year. This led to disciplinary or legal action in 108 cases, or some 10 percent, the inspectors said yesterday. Many of these cases were in town-planning offices around Greece. The inspectors said that illegal practices at these offices increased last year largely because of the government’s decision to impose Value Added Tax (VAT) on new building sites. Constructors had to apply for building licenses before November 25 last year to avoid VAT and inspectors said that some civil servants helped doctor applications so they appeared to be handed in on time, even when they were submitted after the deadline. Inspectors found mismanagement at the Lawyers’ Pension Fund, which included delays in paying out pensions to some 8,000 applicants. This resulted a 92,000-euro fine for the fund. Several municipalities were also found to have been guilty of mismanagement. The local authority in Iraklion, Crete, was discovered to have spent 1.6 million euros on building offices – without the proper permit – which were never completed and eventually had to be knocked down.