OPINION

Lasting corruption

It is hardly a national secret that bribery and corruption thrive in Greek public life as the basic elements of a peculiar «system.» But the extreme reaction that followed a statement by Supreme Court Prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis, that «words such as bribery and corruption pale before the reality in Greece,» was hardly unexpected. He brought back into the spotlight that major, deep-rooted scourge of our country. The duration and size of this problem was emphasized by a newspaper article earlier this week which quoted from a report put together in 1947 by American economist Paul Porter, the head of a US mission evaluating strategies for the exploitation of the American post-war aid package to Europe. It is worth quoting an excerpt: «In Greece, there is a corrupt regime which conceals a small clique of businessmen and bankers, as well as a depraved system of public administration… The chief organization we have to work with is the Greek civil service… There are too many civil servants who are badly paid and they have turned to corruption. Low wages are being boosted through a deceptive system of one-off bonuses, as a result of which, a few civil servants receive four times the basic salary… The result is total disintegration. I have never seen a system of management so essentially incompetent. It is impossible to rely on the civil service for anything… Radical reform of state services is a crucial prerequisite if things are to change in Greece…» And this was written 55 years ago…