Shredder awaiting red tape

Bureaucracy is the bane of the lives of many Greeks but the government said yesterday that it aims to begin cutting back on red tape, which costs the equivalent of 6.8 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product. The Economy and Finance Ministry has joined forces with the Interior Ministry, it was announced yesterday, in a bid to reduce bureaucratic costs by a quarter over the next five years. This would help boost public coffers by 4 billion euros, according to government estimates, as it would stimulate economic activity by increasing competitiveness and productivity. Following a meeting yesterday between the relevant ministers and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, it was revealed that a 631-million-euro program, called Politia, would be implemented to reduce red tape. «This is the first time in Greece that there is a special operational plan included in the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) for administrative reforms, the main thrust of which will be the reduction of bureaucracy,» said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. The minister accused previous PASOK governments of «leaving these things to their fate.» The Politia scheme will focus on several key areas that include the simplification of administrative processes, improving the legal framework, better training for civil servants, the use of new technology in all branches of the public sector and the modernization of Citizens’ Advice Bureaus (KEPs), which are one-stop shops for applicants to obtain a wide range of paperwork needed for dealings with the public sector. A survey last month suggested that the vast majority of Greeks are satisfied with KEPs as they are. Nine in 10 of those questioned by pollsters VPRC said they were happy with the speed of service and quality of the information they received at KEPs. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said that tackling bureaucracy was an issue of «immense significance» for the general public.