OPINION

Greece’s annual corruption report

It is around this time every year that the public sector is honored. The head of the Public Administration Inspectors’ Agency releases the report on public sector corruption, the newspapers publish the findings, people shake their heads in disapproval and the cases of wrongdoing continue to pile up – some of them most likely also to be included in next year’s report. More worrying than the cases of corruption themselves is the fact that none of the inspectors’ disclosures is any surprise to anyone. Greeks deem that corruption is part and parcel of the state apparatus. They have learned to live with corruption just as they have learned to live with earthquakes. But corruption is not a natural phenomenon that we just have to accept and live with. Corruption is a work of man and it will be around so long as the will to clamp down on it is annulled by the state’s failure to take disciplinary action. Annual reports show no progress in combating graft whatsoever, which demonstrates that the network of corruption will always find ways to protect itself. The report clearly states that the disciplinary committees guarantee the impunity of wrongdoers. Leniency becomes an incentive for more corruption. The employee code of conduct that was recently introduced by the conservative administration has updated the disciplinary law and made more efficient the prosecution of those who break the law. The new code is a big step forward but it is not enough. The problem is that responsibilities are too scattered, therefore leaving many loopholes for corruption. The New Democracy government must simplify legislation concerning the functioning of the public sector. Responsibilities must be clarified so as to prevent wrongdoers from passing the buck. The administration must send a message that the violation of the law or the failure to fulfill one’s obligation will be discovered and, most importantly, sanctions will be brought on the culprits.