OPINION

The state’s lost dream

A striking aspect of the phone-tapping scandal that has cast its shadow over the country’s public life during the past two weeks is the disarray into which the state’s mechanisms for monitoring and protecting the country have fallen – if they have not actually disintegrated. Officials and staff, well-paid from secret funds and brazenly throwing around taxpayers’ money, have shown themselves to be completely incapable of protecting the citizens of this country from spies and for a whole year have been unable or unwilling to find the culprits. People want to know why Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has abandoned his election campaign promise to refound the state. For years before the elections, the New Democracy party had condemned the partisan state built up by the previous PASOK government over two decades, which had sunk into incompetence and corruption. New Democracy promised to restrict waste and create a new non-partisan administration. The answer to the question of what improvements have been made comes from the European Central Bank’s latest report on the effectiveness of the state sector in 23 developing countries: Greece comes in second to last. The ECB found that 5.8 billion euros had gone to waste in Greece because of the incompetence of the state. There was also a lack of transparency as well as corruption and bureaucracy. The report shows that the government has done much to free the creative forces of production, but has not made any changes to the state’s mechanism, putting at risk any improvements already made in the economy. Without an integrated state administration, how can reforms be advanced and infrastructure projects completed?