Killing the snake of corruption

«If you see a snake, kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes,» Ross Perot once quipped. His advice to Greece’s conservative government, which yesterday announced the establishment of a national committee to clamp down on corruption, would most probably be to ditch it. It’s the same old remedy: When a government does not want to tackle a problem, it appoints a special committee to deal with it. But the Greek government’s decision comes with a world patent: The committee will also include representatives of the productive base. In other words, representatives of the tax dodgers. There’s nothing too complicated about the whole affair. The small growth in public revenues shows that tax inspections have loosened. There is no need for a committee to confirm the obvious or to discuss whether the authorities must intensify their controls. Tax dodgers manage to get away with it due to poor monitoring – but their impunity cannot be lifted with discussions and the setting up of anti-graft committees. What is needed is stricter measures. The state must thwart tax evasion rather than establish yet another committee that will only acknowledge the problem before arriving at the conclusion that nothing can be done. Wiping out tax evasion takes two things: harmonizing Greek law with community legislation and showing the requisite political will to enforce it. A new committee will only obscure things to the advantage of those who are stealing money from the state coffers.