Rewarding illegality

It is common knowledge that illegal practices are rife, in many different forms, in Greek public life. And the fact that such practices are flourishing is indisputable evidence of social and political underdevelopment. There can be no doubt that the only way to change this unacceptable situation is to enforce existing laws. Instead of this, however, our political system has tolerated – and sometimes even entered into exchange with – the guilty parties, either as a vote-winning tactic or out of sheer complacency. Over the years, there have been many governments which pompously announced that they would turn over a new leaf by legitimizing previous illegal practices. History has shown, however, that the only thing they had succeeded in doing was creating a new generation of illegality. Each time around, these crafty individuals correctly assessed the government’s rhetoric and indeed managed to cash in on it, discrediting any sense of rule of law. And the same thing is happening again. The Economy Ministry intends to offer title deeds to citizens encroaching upon 50,000 state-owned plots of land, for a small if not purely nominal fee. The government’s excuses for this initiative are exactly the same as those offered in the past, as is its display of tough talk. Another common factor is the entirely evident, albeit unexpressed, intention of profiting from this venture. No one is disputing the need for the effective regulation of a longstanding problem and the establishment of a sense of order. However, this should only apply in certain cases and certainly not for those who have only recently trespassed on state property. Other offenders should be prosecuted without delay and fined accordingly. Our reservations, which history has justified, are boosted further by the government’s decision to offer favorable treatment to media organizations with outstanding debts to social security foundations. Needless to say, enterprises in other sectors face heavy fines for any delays in repaying their debts to social security funds. It is equally unnecessary to note that those who respect their obligations face unfair competition. Even if we overlook this provocative draft legislation on the grounds of the sensitivity of the media sector, we cannot ignore the entirely unjustified inclusion in the reforms of hoteliers who owe money to their employees’ funds. The government should be reminded of its promise to crack down on corruption and set new moral standards in public life.

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