OPINION

Red-letter day

It was a red-letter day for public administration yesterday as a decision by Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis was enough to tarnish the image of his ministry’s advisory body, to display vindictiveness against those who dare appeal to it, to set an example of appreciatory logic in a crucial period (given Greece’s entry into the eurozone) and, finally, to convey the impression of an administration which is inclined to take citizens by surprise. Everyone should recall that the objective property values were raised last March. Also, everyone should remember that 69 municipalities, believing that the new prices exceeded market ones, appealed to the Finance Ministry’s committee of appeals, which found that in 57 of 69 cases prices had to be reduced. Fotiadis reacted by highhandedly rejecting the appeals made by 41 municipalities and by further increasing prices in 28 municipalities, showing blatant disregard toward the opinion of the committee, on the grounds that its status is merely advisory – as if the ministries have the advisory bodies just so that the ministers can act contrary to their recommendations. In other words, the deputy minister did not hesitate to taint the image of an official body under his ministry in order to take revenge on the municipalities which dared appeal to that body. This outrageous decision which tears to shreds the rules of high-principled administration did not end there. In a spectacular move which surprised and entrapped citizens, the deputy minister announced that the changes will take effect today so that those who anticipated a price reduction as a result of the committee’s recommendations and had therefore postponed their transactions would have no time to carry them out at the already high prices of last March but at even higher prices. According to sources, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis intervened, deferring the introduction of new values to February 1, 2002, so as to allow the populace some time to adapt. It is clear that the intervention of the minister did not achieve much, so as to be worthy of praise. It only deprived the government’s minor inspiration of an additional negative element, that of surprise. But it neither did away with the element of revenge against the appealing municipalities, nor with the irrational disregard used toward the recommendations of the responsible advisory body, nor the impression of frivolousness conveyed by a second price increase in 10 months, nor with the hypocrisy of a State which expects others to reduce prices while it continues to make precipitous price increases. Christodoulakis should, at least, have revoked his deputy’s decision. Now, it’s up to the court to do this. What was found at the church site was a section of the wing from American Flight 11, the plane that crashed into the trade center’s north tower on September 11. Two church workers inside the building during the attacks got out in time, but several members of the congregation were killed while working at the Twin Towers, Romas said.