NEWS

Corruption is thriving in public services

The man charged with keeping an eye on public services for cases of graft has painted another bleak picture of the state sector in his annual report which was delivered yesterday and recommends immediate steps to prevent bureaucrats being tempted by corruption. «The fight against corruption is long, hard and has many obstacles such as the bureaucratic attitude of public servants, various petty interests and the lack of know-how in thwarting techniques used to cover up corrupt practices,» said the country’s general inspector of public administration, Leandros Rakintzis. As in previous reports, Rakintzis identified town-planning offices and state hospitals, followed by municipalities, as the areas of the public sector where corruption is most rife. Late last year, graft watchdog Transparency International ranked Greece as the most corrupt country in the eurozone while earlier this year it found that the average Greek family pays 1,450 euros per year in bribes to public officials. Rakintzis said that the main reason why corruption is not being curtailed is that offenders go unpunished. He drew attention to the fact that internal evaluation of public servants almost always led to them being given full marks. «It is not possible for all 800,000 civil servants to be excellent,» he said. «Even I did not get marks like that.» Rakintzis said that in checking 7,608 source of wealth declarations (pothen esches) of high-level public servants, 30 were found to have suspiciously high earnings. He also gave the example of a doctor at the KAT emergency hospital in northern Athens who made some 2 million euros during a six-year period by effectively operating a private clinic within the state facilities. Rakintzis also listed a «long list of offenses» at town-planning offices, an area where «destruction [of the environment] cannot be reversed.» He highlighted the fact that many of the 176 offices around the country are understaffed and that illegal buildings are rarely demolished. He said that there are 2 million illegal buildings in Greece, 300,000 of which are in Attica. He recommended 15 ways of tackling corruption, which included employing public servants only in the areas where they already live, changing the system for promotions and drawing up a new wage structure.