Bureaucratic woes

Bureaucratic woes

The inexcusable hardship that citizens face at National Cadastre offices has its roots in the very beginning of the Greek state, in its inability to draw up a registry since then in the face of strong resistance, a weak central administration and general indifference. Now Greece is trying – in a few years – to impose order on 200 years of chaos. The move to the digital era will help towards this end, but the lost hours and many months of waiting for a result show that however much a system is improved, it is only as strong as its weakest links. In this case, these are the very complicated procedures, the lack of personnel (especially specialized staff) and a culture in which every problem is magnified while there is no flexibility or desire for finding solutions. National Cadastre offices and municipalities are called on to undertake tasks that they are unable to complete within a reasonable time. What use is a digital application when we do not know when our issue will be dealt with, because of a shortage of personnel and because the procedures remain complicated and time-consuming?

Everywhere we see the need for simpler procedures, for people who want to solve problems to be given the authority and legal cover to do so

In this light, many reforms look like window dressing. Like dabbing paint on a wreck. But the passing to the digital era will help us gain time as we attempt the leap from mid-20th century to the present, because today citizens are more informed about the state of public services and how they could improve. Till now, we accepted what we found, in the understanding that dealing with the public administration was synonymous with hardship. Now, the image of people lining up outside National Cadastre offices in the predawn hours, in the hope of getting something done by midday, allows everyone to see the disconnect between the needs of our time and the functioning of our state. This applies to many public services, including the offices that deal with immigrants’ residence and work permits. There, we see people who have tied their fate with Greece, who contribute to its development and social security funds, faced with slipshod services which hide their incompetence behind the fastidious imposition of complicated procedures and unreasonable demands.

Everywhere we see the need for simpler procedures, for people who want to solve problems to be given the authority and legal cover to do so, rather than allowing indifference and fear of responsibility to hold sway. In short, every public service ought to support and respect whoever stands before it. And this should be the criterion by which to judge those who are in charge – bureaucrats and politicians.

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