Unreasoned change

When the New Democracy government assumed its duties last year, it promoted the establishment of a general secretariat for procurement within the Defense Ministry as a major part of its drive to crack down on corruption. And the appointment of top-level prosecutor Giorgos Zorbas to the head of the secretariat lent extra symbolism to its goals. The government did not just create a political post for its defense procurements but it gave this post to a top judicial official. With this dual move, it aimed to demonstrate the importance it attached to reinstating normal practices in defense procurements, which have long been characterized by wastefulness and shady deals. Indeed, Zorbas’s key mission was to purge the current system of irregularities by probing past problematic transactions, and thus curb wastefulness, break up corruption rings and ensure that taxpayers’ money is being well spent. In his attempt to fulfill the duties of his post, Zorbas may have made some mistakes, but he certainly made a definite contribution to averting any more scandals or blatant errors. However, despite this positive view, the government is already passing reforms to abolish the general secretariat and set up three administrative units to replace it. In other words, one political post is to be replaced by three administrative ones. So, instead of being entrusted to a politician, the critical job of handling our defense procurements is to be assigned to three technocrats, answerable to the Defense Ministry. But what is the reasoning behind this change which obliges Zorbas to either tolerate his «relegation» in favor of an administrative official or to resign? Does the government believe the reason behind the establishment of the post no longer exists? And, if so, how can this be? Does PM Costas Karamanlis believe the general secretary’s mission has been fulfilled and our defense procurements have been purged of misdeeds? Or perhaps the reasoning that led to the creation of a general secretariat has been turned on its head and it is now believed such a purge would be more effectively done by administrative officials. At a time when the general public feels that corruption has not been effectively tackled, the abolition of the general secretariat for defense procurements and the sidestepping of Zorbas only serve to provoke concern (as well as satisfying certain corrupt circles). Now no one can foresee how such a change could bring about the much-desired purging of corruption; something so frequently heralded but yet to be achieved.