OPINION

Behind the window

Things have come to a head. We’re not doing that bad with the big things: We’re members of all the closed, international clubs. Living standards are better than they were 30 years ago. We have a robust private sector, at least wherever the state is not involved. But we’ve hardly made any progress on a number of key issues. When the illegal quarries continue to operate in spite of the prime minister’s calls to close them down, then there’s something clearly wrong with the country. When a minister announces that he plans to clamp down on the illegal fuel trade and then admits that he doesn’t exactly know how, this, again, is a very alarming sign. Two separate realities seem to be at play in this country: On the shop-window level, there’s the state, the government, the schools, the military and all other official institutions. Behind the front, the real game rages. Corrupt customs officials make shady dealings with smugglers, illegal quarry owners do business with mayors, former public power corporation workers are paid to «fix» electricity meters and so on. I feel that what’s going on there is more important than what we see – especially in the smaller communities. Cynicism and vulgarity are kings. The question is: Where do we go from here? We used to think decentralization was the answer. That only shoved corruption to the local, monitor-free administration level. Some academics were appointed to sensitive posts. But these were soon crashed by the graft-ridden underworld. What we need now is a systematic effort, common sense and a concrete plan. Anyone who dares to do away with the dark underworld will go down in history. Mind my words, this won’t be easy task as the current situation benefits many politicians and citizens alike.