Inside opposition to DEKO reform

When the conservative government unveiled its intention to reform the public utilities, or DEKOs, the reactions coming from the various sectoral groups, union leaders and opposition parties were only to be expected. The dysfunctional and debt-laden sectors which the government is now trying to shake up by promoting concrete legal measures have for years been a preferred locus of party influences and patron-client relations. DEKOs have for years been run on the wrongheaded principle that the burgeoning deficits are no problem. The rising bill is conveniently sent to the country’s taxpayers. Politicians and voters alike realize the urgency of restructuring Greece’s public utilities, which are responsible for the largest production in the broader public sector. And everyone knows the price of accumulating debts. But the biggest surprise did not come from these reactions. Quite stunningly, most of the reactions against the new system of DEKO operation seem to come from members of the conservative government. Specific ministers are not hiding their opposition to the prime minister’s will to step up the reform program. The fiefdoms entrenched inside the public utilities seem have found an ally in fiefdoms inside the ministries. The changes have upset those politicians, who have used their position in the public utilities as a springboard for promoting their politically expedient agendas – to the expense of taxpayers, of course. This is holding up the implementation of reforms according to the set timetables. But reforms are absolutely essential to the Greek economy and there is no room for personal games. Costas Karamanlis knows exactly what is going on, who does not want the DEKO reform program to succeed and why. The PM should rein in his undisciplined ministers.