A competent crew is key

Greek politicians are mostly strangers to technocratic management and deft bargaining. The political system has regrettably unraveled the country’s public administration – a process set in motion in the early 1980s.

Of course you will come across dedicated and efficient employees that you can depend on at every ministry, but there is no such thing as a solid structure.

Before Greece was hit by the financial crisis, ministers had no clear idea about the number of ministry staff. Another plague is the so-called advisers, who, unable to land a job in the private sector, instead hang around the political bureaus in the hope of one day being appointed as special aides.

The perennial failure of the Greek state to see through demanding or complicated projects usually means that most cases end up on the prime minister’s desk. This in turn means a great deal of micromanagement for the premier. This is something Antonis Samaras quickly found out after becoming prime minister.

It may be hard to admit right now, but the memorandum agreements were in fact the only sort of action plans that civil servants, and a small team of senior officials, could depend on for some clear guidance.

True to form, old party hacks took refuge behind leaks and pompous talk about national sovereignty to disguise their incompetence. They were irked by the fact that they were no longer able to appoint their cronies or spend money without prior approval from the Treasury. This was in fact the only thing that mattered to them.

The reason we are saying all that is because the current government is going to need a great deal of technical support in order first to negotiate with the country’s foreign creditors and secondly to see any agreement through. Anything could go wrong because of that affliction.

And because – as with every new government – there is a great deal of skepticism and an abundance of conspiracy theories, it will be very hard to trust civil servants and technocrats who have done this job before.

But time is running out. We are a small country and there are only a small number of people who can carry out the hard stuff. At the end of the day, it does not matter if they have a right-wing, or left-wing background. Let’s hope that the prime minister and his financial advisers will realize this.

It will be a shame to have ensured that the ship is on the right course only for it to crash into the rocks because of the crew’s incompetence.

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