OPINION

Solid management team required

You would think that the prime minister, ministers, general secretaries and the like would have a calendar tacked to their office wall marking the deadlines and goals stipulated by the austerity program for each sector. You would also think that George Papandreou would be looking for the perfect team to make it all work and that his headquarters at the Maximos Mansion would be busy with the most difficult and complex undertaking Greece has ever faced in its recent history. Over the next few week and months, the Greek state needs to be rebuilt on an entirely new foundation; hundreds of public agencies need to be streamlined or shut down and many new fronts need to be opened against various groups, from truck drivers to notaries. And it all has to happen under the vigilant eye and supervision of foreign powers and international authorities. So while it seems abundantly clear what needs to be done, you can’t help feeling that nothing is really changing. Some government officials are looking to salvage their «special» clientelist relationships by cooking up quasi-reform bills that they hope, in vain, will fool the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Others attack the finance minister because he is either putting pressure on them or exposing them, suggesting even that the loan deal is between him and the IMF-EU and has nothing to do with them. A third group, meanwhile, are specializing in ways of hiding their sins. The truth here is simple. Greece can never pull off a recovery this way. The prime minister needs to end his international open consultation and put together a centralized and tightly knit group that will help him manage and monitor the stability program. Those who think that the time is not yet ripe and that he should wait until municipal elections before making his move don’t understand the seriousness of the prospect of bankruptcy and defaulting. If most ministers sabotage the enterprise or simply drag their feet, it will be hardly surprising if state officials follow suit. The finance minister cannot bully everyone into submission and the deputy prime minister lacks the staff and patience to be able to supervise every individual ministry. This role belongs to the PM and his aides, and for this reason his office must become a real strategic headquarters rather than a think tank where everyone can voice an opinion.