OPINION

Restricting the state

The drafting of the 2007 budget has begun and, in accordance with the constitution, it must be tabled in Parliament on October 2 so the final text can be put to vote in November. Last Wednesday, at the first of daily meetings underway at the General Accounting Office, it was decided to «reduce consumer spending, freeze overtime and travel by civil servants, etc.» Since this is something we hear every year and every year expenditure exceeds the bounds of the budget while deficits mount, we think the authorities should take a more serious approach and realize that if the state is not reduced and restricted, expenditure cannot be reduced to a level that will allow for a reduction of the deficit to the level demanded by the European Union (i.e. 2.6 percent of the GDP this year, to 2.5 percent in 2007) to remove the Greek economy from its current state of supervision. When we say a reduction of the state, we first of all mean a closure of certain services, that is state companies that provide no services or whose work is now obsolete. There are an estimated 250 of these virtually useless services which have dozens of staff members and general directors who have the use of state cars and secretaries. We also mean that, as we promised Brussels 15 years ago, the some 10,000 civil servants who retire every year are not replaced, with any new recruitment restricted to the health and education sectors. If staff from discontinued sectors are transferred to posts vacated by retirees, that will mean an end to vote-grabbing through promises of jobs. One positive move has been the setting up of a committee, on August 1, to examine this problem and find ways to close these 250 services.