OPINION

Aid or handouts?

The conservative government has failed miserably in terms of fire prevention. It has done no better job regarding firefighting. The fire victims are the first casualties. Apart from the dead friends and relatives and the lost property, they also have to deal with day-to-day survival issues. For the government, it’s the day-after test. New Democracy set the quick distribution of financial aid as its first priority. However, only the residents of the affected areas require immediate disaster relief. The rest could be compensated under standard procedures (it goes without saying, of course, that there should be no delay in their cases either). When it comes to the inhabitants, the authorities should have gone about the issue on a village – or town – basis. Elected representatives could, under the auspices of municipal officials, set up detailed lists that would allow the victims to collect the allocated money from the banks. It’s just common sense. Nor was it difficult to predict the mayhem that the chosen procedure caused. Note that the mess that followed was an insult to the actual victims while also causing squandering of public money. To be sure, had it not been for the coming elections, there would have been none of this generosity or haste. The proof is that those who were hit by fires before the elections were called were not dealt with in the same fashion. ND’s open-handed posturing, it appears, was a means of grabbing votes by turning disaster relief into handouts. All this has been yet another punch to our bankrupt political system. But the big wager concerns the day after. In the more advanced states, similar disasters have prompted comprehensive, long-term plans to rebuild the afflicted regions. Or will the funds be spent on a new cycle of anarchic development?