City Hall’s finances

It has been common knowledge for some years now that the Athens municipality’s finances have been particularly problematic, to the point where some officials have been talking about a risk of bankruptcy. The fact that Dimitris Avramopoulos was elected for two consecutive terms with a very high percentage of the vote does not necessarily mean that that he was successful as a financial manager. Very little, in fact, has been said or written about this aspect of his administration. At her inauguration, the new mayor had only good words to say about her predecessor, but «before the cock could crow three times,» some of her close associates were painting a grim picture of the municipality’s finances, speaking of artificial budgets, 65 percent of which were never implemented, and with inflexible expenditures amounting to 80 percent of the total. Dora Bakoyianni has so far avoided making public statements on this issue, and has been seeking funds from the ministries of the Economy and the Interior, hence her recent meetings with the respective ministers Nikos Christodoulakis and Costas Skandalidis. It is not yet clear whether and to what degree these efforts will be successful, but they pose a political and moral issue. If it is true that the new mayor has assumed a budget in such disarray, it would be morally desirable and politically useful to make public a documented analysis of the municipality’s finances, in order to give its citizens a clear picture of the situation. Obviously this cannot be done immediately, but it is important that the new mayor makes a commitment to do so as soon as possible. Otherwise, leaks of such information by her associates and indirect statements aimed at creating a certain climate are not a solution to what is clearly a problem. Bakoyianni is generally seen as a first-class politician who is likely to play a leading role in the country’s future political life. As a parliamentary deputy for the main opposition, she has repeatedly accused the government of indulging in «creative accounting.» Therefore it would be inconsistent on her part if she embarks on a similar course in her new job.

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