OPINION

Killing the state from within

The Greek party system has set up a very nice sideline that will cost the country very dearly.

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou was the one who began the whole theory about “golden boys” (consultants and managers appointed to the public sector on fat salaries) in an attempt to outdo his opponents in the populism stakes. Populist elements on the left and right ran with Papandreou’s idea. There was of course some basis for his theory as public enterprises were filled with all manner of consultants making 200,000 plus euros a year. But then we started putting restrictions on the amount of money that ministers, general secretaries, bankers and so on could receive, bringing us to the other extreme.

The popular sentiment was assuaged, a few positive comments were made in the press and the show was over. Of course the problem then emerged of finding someone who was prepared to take on the key posts in the public sector for a low wage and in such a toxic climate. Anyone in their right state of mind or with the option of working elsewhere stayed well away.

What this led to was political parties looking for candidates among their cronies and others whose resumes would, under normal circumstances, still be collecting dust on a manager’s desk. These are the regular visitors to party headquarters, the ones who whine because the party leadership has not found a cozy spot for them despite the support they have offered.

And so we have ended up with all kinds of unbelievable characters being appointed to key posts – a very dangerous phenomenon.

It is clear that this is a recipe for disaster in terms of management capabilities as many of these people could not be trusted to run a street kiosk.

With regard to the impression society is left with thanks to such tactics, it is equally disastrous because we all hear people talking about some washout who has been appointed to some executive board or other in the public sector.

Then of course there is the matter of honesty to consider. This is Greece after all and we can only imagine why someone would accept a key position with a paltry salary when that person has emerged from the smoky political back rooms.

To be fair though, there are many people serving the state who work hard for little money and who have never been tempted to dip their fingers in the honey pot.

It is thanks to their diligence and honesty that the country is still able to stand on its feet. However, they do not represent the rule.

What Greece needs is professional managers at its social security funds, at public enterprises, at state hospitals, everywhere. I know that the idea is not popular, but it is something that needs to be considered seriously if we want the country to work effectively and fairly.