OPINION

Show of progress

There are clear forces at work which are holding the country to ransom. They can be seen in the course of the national economy, how public contracts and procurements are assigned, and in the 2004 Athens Olympics preparations. It does not take much evidence. One only has to look at the use of public money and of European Union funds which arrived through the Third Community Support Framework. How were these huge funds invested and with how much interest in future productive output? And how was the money distributed, and with how much concern over equality and income redistribution? The answer lies before our eyes: superficial projects, spending with faint – if any – contribution to overall economic growth, works, tagged «Olympic projects,» which entered through the back door. As regards the distribution of projects, we have witnessed direct assignments, disregard for budget overruns, the bypassing of legislative safeguards because of urgent status – a status that was awarded because of delays in planning. To get to the nub of the matter, all these direct, and generous, contracts have been assigned to the usual suspects of Greece’s entrepreneurial class. The organizing committee of the 2004 Games itself gives the impression that this is an event staged by a narrow elite. These symptoms are not fortuitous. Under a surface of respect for the law and democratic institutions, the country is held hostage to a dense, behind-the-scenes network of interests that, in fact, reigns over, and mandates, the allocation of state contracts. In the past, the word «system» was used to describe the capitalist class or the communist party – depending on the political status quo. In contemporary Greece, the system is made up of a close-knit economic and political minority that is in charge of state wealth distribution and which makes a fortune at the expense of production. As long as this system stays in place, neither will Greek taxpayers’ money and foreign capital bear any fruit nor will citizens’ democratic representation find genuine expression. This is the reason behind Kathimerini’s insistence upon shedding light on isolated cases – not some sinister desire. The existing system puts the brakes on every genuine economic and political activity. If this is not shaken, if it remains active behind a show of progress, Greece will be condemned to the last place in Europe – and only not only among the current 15 member states.