OPINION

The right people for the job

Greece?s politicians have at last realized that a number of the crucial issues facing this debt-ridden nation (such as the privatization of dysfunctional public utilities and the complex negotiations regarding the country?s mammoth financial woes) cannot possibly be solved without some assistance from private sector technocrats.

The existing employees in the public sector have proved themselves quite incapable of dealing with the challenges of the day. The entire state apparatus depends on a small number of experienced people — but these will not suffice. The issues at hand are complicated and the representatives of Greece?s international creditors are extremely demanding and skilled.

The problem is that PASOK?s populist ways both before the elections and during its first few months in power have put off any sober-headed person who would, under different circumstances, consider taking a position in the state sector.

When the Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou tries to convince private sector experts to leave their jobs and come to work for the ?common good,? it will find itself having to pay for its ?golden boys? rhetoric of the past.

For better or worse, there is a small number of people out there who possess the experience and know-how to handle crucial issues with international implications. It goes without saying that they will only leave their current careers and take on the risks of a public sector post if they are rewarded in accordance with private sector standards, and if they are guaranteed protection against legal campaigns by unionists and other vested interests.

The populism that has dominated the political scene in recent decades and the slurs made by certain media means private sector executives will certainly think twice before entering the public domain. For that reason, PASOK socialists and New Democracy conservatives must agree on certain candidates for key posts in the state apparatus, and protect them, otherwise the problems will remain unsolved, regardless of what political party happens to be in charge. If the political system wants to save the country from bankruptcy, it must rely on established technocrats who will enjoy protection and a good salary.