OPINION

Salary hierarchies for a better service

It appears that repeated incompetence in the civil service, along with the public’s poor opinion of the standard of service provided, have convinced even the most sceptical in the ruling PASOK party that without some kind of hierarchy there can be no progress in a sector so vital to the country’s growth. Unfortunately, in order to come to this realization, the country first had to go through a long period when mistaken and counter-productive ideas prevailed, creating fertile ground for the rule of the party and a resulting lack of meritocracy. Only later did those in charge realize that there can be no effective, productive administration without a hierarchy and scaled salaries commensurate with an individual’s knowledge and position of responsibility. Recently, as a result of the repeated raises in important sectors, there have been some policy moves that lead us to believe something is changing. One example is in the administration of public schools. It has finally been understood that the complete depreciation of the post of principal has played a decisive role in the disorganization of schools and the decline in public education. This reduction, and the paltry bonus of 27,000 drachmas paid for the post, turned it into a purely administrative chore that attracted no one. There were no inspections; therefore, none of the teachers felt accountable and a slide in standards was inevitable. A few months ago, the Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Floridis and his education counterpart Nikolaos Gesoulis agreed to raise the bonus to 100,000 drachmas monthly, as a starting point for a more general reorganization of schools. There was an impressive response from prospective heads; the operating structures of schools were redetermined, along with the teachers’ responsibilities and the jurisdiction of the principal. It is hoped that in the new academic year, state schools will at least regain a measure of the discipline lost as well as the benefits of self-monitoring. A similar climate prevails in the debate over reforming civil servants’ pay scales. The leadership of the National Economy Ministry believes that the new pay scale should restore hierarchical structure, on which the effectiveness of the civil service greatly depends. Plans to reform the pay scale, therefore, should begin with determining salaries for positions which require greater responsibility and knowledge. That is, of course, unless the defenders of partisan politics once again have their way.