NEWS

Further push for transparency

Undeterred by the complications it has encountered by making the process of appointing high-ranking civil servants more transparent than ever before, the PASOK government yesterday approved a bill that will see all public sector decisions, budgets and even the wages of some bureaucrats published on the Internet. The Cabinet approved the draft law, which Prime Minister George Papandreou said would «contribute toward restoring the faith of citizens in the state» and would help people «know how their money is spent.» «We want citizens to know who decides and what they decide and what each of these decisions costs,» said Papandreou during a Cabinet meeting that was open to the media and broadcast live on the Internet. «This is a law that does not cost a thing.» Under the proposals it will be compulsory for each government department and the wider public sector in general to publish all its decisions, including appointments, the formation of committees and the remuneration paid to their members. Each department will also have to make public its budget as well as its balance sheets. «We cannot have a cohesive society without transparency,» said Papandreou. «The respect that institutions command depends on the trustworthiness of those that serve them.» Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis, who is responsible for drafting the bill said that it represented «a fundamental change in how the state works, which is being undertaken for the first time internationally.» PASOK has already run into problems in its effort to appoint almost 90 general and special secretaries to ministries after allowing candidates to apply online, which caused a lengthy holdup in the process. Only some of the bureaucrats have been appointed, two months after the Socialists were voted into power, prompting criticism from both within the party and from the opposition. In a further embarrassment, the government was forced to fire one official this week moments after hiring him because of comments he had posted on the Internet criticizing PASOK just hours after it won the October 4 general elections. It was not clear when the draft law that the government is preparing will be tabled in Parliament.