10-point plan to deal with corruption

Faced with the ever-growing problem of corruption in all sectors of public life, the government yesterday announced 10 measures aimed at stamping it out, following Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s declaration of war on the problem last month. The crackdown has already prompted a ban on all slot machines and arcade video games in an effort to end illegal gambling. Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said the government would strengthen inspection mechanisms in the public sector, speed up legal procedures for dealing with incidents such as bribery and dereliction of duty, and extend to local government officials the measure demanding that they declare the sources of their assets. In addition, the Finance Ministry is looking into ways of dealing with financial crimes, especially with respect to offshore companies. «The government, with great seriousness and responsibility, is opening a permanent front in the war against corruption, at all levels and in all areas of public services and functions,» Skandalidis said after a meeting with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Cabinet secretary Socrates Kosmidis and Simitis’s legal aide Giorgos Papadimitriou. Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, who is part of the group given the task of fighting corruption, was absent yesterday. «In this effort, we must have the support of all citizens and forces in society,» Skandalidis said. «We are open to all suggestions, because this effort will not end with today’s proposals or the announcements we will make, but (will be followed by) a series of other measures that must be made,» he added. «After the main sources of corruption have been located, it is the first step in a major effort that has been decided upon,.» Cases of corruption by civil servants (such as bribery, fraud, embezzlement, dereliction of duty and so on) will be dealt with by the courts within three months, with another three months granted for appeals to a higher court. Citizens will be able to complain to the police force’s Internal Affairs Department. Inspecting bodies will be granted new powers and will be upgraded. The State Audit Council, the highest administrative court which oversees State spending, will have greater involvement in overseeing the functioning of local governments, construction projects and the workings of public corporations.

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