OPINION

Draconian measures

If the Stability and Growth Program is to succeed, it will take a great deal of public tolerance. And this, in turn, requires its implimentation to place a fair burden on citizens. The recent measures announced imply that some of the revenue for 2011 will come from high-income groups. But at present, most of the burden is being shouldered by civil servants. And, as if this were not enough, state workers have become the target of an unfair attack. One of the arguments is that state salaries make up a huge chunk of the budget. Sure, but this is due to the large number of workers, not the size of the salaries. Responsibility for this lies with the political system, not the staff. The same goes for its bureaucracy, idleness, waste and corruption. It is politicians who make the rules and it is they who must ensure they are followed. Some will say that laws are not implemented because of the shielding by unions. Politicians like to explain their failures by pointing at obstacles of their own making. It’s sad to hear government cadres say that tax officials should not complain about tax cuts as they make up for it through graft. Many may be shady but the state must fight corruption and not take it into account for incomes policy. It is remarkable that ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros sided in favor of Draconian laws to curb corruption, nepotism and tax-evasion. Instead of seizing the opportunity, the government is ducking the issue. The reason is simple: If politicians set strict ethical and meritocratic principles, the political system will not be able to use public administration for its own ends. Indicative of the hypocrisy is the fact that some high-income earners are lashing out at the civil servants’ bonuses. Doing so victimizes state workers and condemns them to smaller pensions. The truth is (save some public utilities) there are few highly paid jobs and these mostly go to minister acolytes. So why all the fuss about slashing wages? Is it just because that would have an immediate impact or because markets have a fetish for Draconian measures?