OPINION

Funds in peril, again

Although we are now halfway through the seven-year Third Community Support Framework (CSF III), Greece has only absorbed around 22 percent of the European Union funds, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas said yesterday. As a result, the country risks an even worse performance in absorbing the CSFIII funds than it did even with the second package from Brussels, where the government admitted to having lost about 160 million drachmas. It’s clear that the government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis has not learned from its mistakes. And the real amount of CSFIII funds that Greece has absorbed falls to just 18 percent if one only counts funds actually received, as the additional 4 percent concerns projects for which the government has applied and expects approval. The looming failure to receive the entire sum that Athens is entitled to is made worse by the government’s reaction against those who point out the official delays. The government claims that all outside criticism aims to undermine its position. And it projected the same arrogance when it rejected all unwanted commentary during the implementation of the CSFII, which resulted in the country sacrificing 160 billion drachmas on the altar of PASOK’s arrogance and inefficiency. Making another libation to the deity of languidness and corruption would be too high a price to pay. Rather than railing at interests that supposedly seek to conspire against it, the government must see that the heart of the problem lies with its own poor management. That’s the source of criticism – even when it comes from those who have supported it for years – and not the schemes of some invisible conspirators. Besides, PASOK’s rule has done nothing to push powerful barons into plotting against the government – unless Socialist minds have become so twisted as to see the criticism of the ELPE-Petrola merger as a conspiracy against them. It does not seem to cross the minds of Socialist cadres that the political isolation of Simitis’s government can only be cured with more and more serious work in order to improve the quality of output. Instead, PASOK officials prefer the tried and tested method of building short-lived alliances in order to prolong their grip on power.