Where’s the independence?

Where’s the independence?

Independent authorities exist for one reason only: to be independent. And this is because the interests of ministers, MPs and other officials tend to diverge from those of citizens, and often in an opaque manner.

This means that abiding by the rules governing markets where a lot of money is at stake is assigned to agencies that are above government manipulation so that ministers are not tempted to exchange favors with businesspeople and – more importantly – decisions involving large amounts of money are not treated with suspicion.

Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis challenged this role in Parliament recently, saying that the president of the Competition Commission must “cooperate with the choices made by government and Parliament.” “Those who do not cooperate must resign. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

‘The government may not realize it, but there are increasing murmurs in society about issues concerning transparency and integrity’ 

But no. If it were “as simple as that,” why did the government bring Ioannis Lianos all the way from the UK, where he is a professor of competition law and public policy at University College London, instead of appointing some ministry employee to the commission?

Back when appointing Lianos, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself said that it was a priority of his government to restore the Competition Commission’s independence and integrity by appointing respected, high-caliber experts who have no involvement in politics.

The government may not realize it, but there are increasing murmurs in society about issues concerning transparency and integrity. Are these murmurs prompted by actual incidents? Or are they the result of opposition propaganda? We do not know. But Georgiadis’ insistence on appointing a rather unsuccessful director of the Competition Commission as its vice president will only increase the buzz and its toxicity. This could be catastrophic for even the most successful government, as former prime minister Kostas Simitis learned, much to his chagrin.

The government may be able to justify the massive rise in prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, but it will never convince pensioners using bank ATMs that the new charges are not unfair. And this is just one of the cases that Georgiadis’ pick for the commission, which Lianos has opposed, was unable to resolve.

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