OPINION

Fighting bureaucracy

According to a statement by the interior minister, the draft presidential decree that was discussed yesterday in a meeting of the Government Committee foresees the abolition of ministries’ joint competence. The proposed legislation concerns 89 cases with regard to citizens’ relationship with the State, as well as the implementation of important productive investment. As Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said yesterday, where seven or even eight ministries now share joint competence, the proposed legislation trims their number to two or three. Details of the presidential decree have not been made known yet. According to existing information, however, the proposed changes aim at trimming red tape which currently dogs citizens’ transactions with the state apparatus, which simultaneously puts the brakes on investment and, by extension, Greece’s economic growth. We all have a crazy story to tell of a visit to some civil service branch. We have all often felt deeply offended by the behavior of employees who – ostensibly – have a duty to serve us. We have all felt our intelligence and reason insulted by unnecessary bureaucratic demands. In the past, joint competence among different ministries and their request for supporting documents was perhaps dictated by genuine needs. However, many of these requirements are now met in other ways. Nevertheless, the original provisions have remained as bureaucratic leftovers beleaguering citizens and obstructing entrepreneurial activity. Everyone knows that one of the main reasons why Greece is the EU laggard in terms of investment is that potential investors are put off by the daunting amount of red tape. Over the past two decades, many foreign firms have displayed strong interest in making investments in our country. In the face of Greek bureaucracy and unexpected complications, however, most of them withdrew their interest, lured by more investor-friendly environments. Due to lack of sufficient information on the presidential decree drafted by the interior minister, we do not yet have a clear picture of the government’s anti-bureaucracy campaign. Even if it is not the far-reaching initiative we hope, it is a first step in that direction. No doubt, doing away with the existing procedures is not an easy task. One has to look hard to distinguish the essential from the superfluous. What the public expects to see is not some one-off initiative but a consistent and long-term fight against the monster of bureaucracy.