OPINION

Mobilization

As early as last summer – perhaps even earlier, since Greece took charge of the EU’s rotating presidency in January 2003 – the state machinery seemed surrendered to the dictates of electoral necessity and Costas Simitis’s goal of clinging to power. Having been overtaken by these detrimental electoral objectives, the State was inevitably paralyzed, administrative functions went undone, Olympics-related projects were seriously delayed and the fiscal economy was reduced to tatters. The stagnation is now obvious. It can be seen in the government ministries, in public utilities, and the civil service. The ousted Socialist government bequeathed a highly problematic situation in all sectors. The new government found itself in a general state of emergency. Many projects and infrastructure works for the Summer Olympics are lagging behind schedule and it will take a lot of coordinated and painstaking effort and money to prepare them in time for the Games. The new leadership of the National Economy Ministry found itself engulfed in a deluge of tasks which entail excess spending and yawning deficits and it is forced to resort to borrowing in order to cover current requirements. Hospitals are in major debt, social security funds are bankrupt, education is underfunded, farmers have been abandoned and considerable sections of the population are gridlocked. In other words, the new government is faced with a plethora of needs and problems. True, it was absorbed by the big issues from its very first steps. However, it did not display the same readiness to deal with smaller problems such as staffing the broader state apparatus and reactivating crucial services and organizations. The Finacial Crime Squad (SDOE), for example, is inactive. Although the sleaze-ridden SDOE was in need of a drastic overhaul, this does not mean that the distribution of goods where tax evasion thrives will remain unchecked. Furthermore, there is no excuse why big organizations like the Agricultural Bank and the Social Security Foundation (IKA), which play a significant role in the economy, have been left without a head, their chairmen having no willingness whatsoever to contribute. One could mention more examples to show that the new government must mobilize as soon as possible. Otherwise, much precious time is being wasted, costs are rising and the needs multiply. Our times call for change, at an intensive pace, and strong mobilization.