NEWS

Corruption in local government

Corruption is widespread throughout local and regional government, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said yesterday, after being given the annual report by the country’s highest judicial watchdog which oversees state spending. In 2000, the report said, the State Audit Council canceled 33.8 billion drachmas’ (100 million euros’) worth of irregular payments and reported that another 2.7 billion drachmas (8 million euros) had been spent in an irregular manner. A striking example of irregular spending was the National Tourism Organization’s renting of premises in Milan in 1991 that had been damaged by fire. There was no clause in the agreement that the damage should be repaired, and so EOT spent 780 million drachmas (2.3 million euros) in rent over the next 10 years without making use of the premises. On spending by the State, legal entities and local and regional authorities, the State Audit Council reported cases in which purchases were made by direct appointment of suppliers without this being necessary, or «purchases were subdivided so that they would not exceed the amount above which a public tender would have to be announced (500 million drachmas or 1.7 million euros).» The report also noted illegal payments of subsidies, overtime and travel expenses for employees at all levels. «Corruption has wormed its way to a great and serious extent into the country’s decentralized administration,» Kaklamanis said. «That is why the State Audit Council must undertake the pre-emptive inspection of spending but also the ordering of construction and supplies of municipalities and regional governments.» Parliament yesterday also began to debate a bill introducing the institution of general inspectors for public administration.