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For a new administrative solidarity

Written by Panagiotis Karkatsoulis on .

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SolidarityEnglish Translation by Sophia Bakoyianni.

The future of the Greek state seems to be, by a first glance, mortgaged: Series of problems justifies this ominous prediction. Among others, the followings are considered to be the most important problems, in order of priority:

A) The resistance for years to reform the State, which is continuing during the period of the Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece. The failure to adapt to international and national rapid developments in the economy, technology and modern risks, places the Greek state in the chorus of states with high operating costs, low efficiency and high corruption.

Β) The pseudo-reforms (i.e., the reforms that were announced but never been accomplished) in order to promote customer-like relations and consequent self-interests. All these destroyed the credibility of the Greek political system abroad, and the (anyway unstable) trust of the public employees towards their political foremen.

C) The inability of the “Brussels” to understand the nature of the problems and propose viable solutions. The easy recipes, the only “one best way” that obviously is not working, and the large aggregations (“the South”, “the countries with high vulnerability” etc.) have none analytical importance for policy makers.

D) The continuing effort of particular media and political parties to gain political / economic benefits of the collapse of the public sector manipulating the public opinion by weeping for “redundant”. And all these end in blurring (if not undermining) the reforms that still not be analysed or examined. Often, this effort is consistent with the effort of “hyenas” (in Greek, “lamogion”) to derive economic benefits from the collapse. The lack of control mechanisms is deepening by the social resistance that is finally worn down.

Ε) The limited (numerically and qualitatively) existence of the reformers. Absolutely, there are remarkable people that believe in reforms and come from different scientific and professional fields, but they are few and they meet difficulties in establishing a common language of understanding and, above all, they cannot go beyond the mistaken role of the state today. The prevalence of neo-liberal ideology in the near past enhances this difficulty of creating bridges among the reformers.

As long as the previous findings are true, then the continuance for 2012 is predictable: The horizontal cuts will be continued with greater intension, the public sector will be paralyzed in its nerve sections and the rush substitution by the supposedly well-functioning private sector will be intensified.

Towards this grim prospect, a recovery plan should include at least:

  1. Measures to strengthen the administrative professional: a) drastic reduction of the political section of the administration by reducing at least the 50% of the posts of the Deputy Ministers and the Vice-Ministers, b) Immediate statutory arrangement for the Secretaries General of the Ministries to be appointed for a certain period of time on a service delivering basis, c) drastic reduction (at least 50%) of job consultants and associates of politicians, d) reassessment of all administrative heads following objective criteria according to the “job profile” and e) the formation of Units for Strategic Planning in each Ministry.
  2. Strengthening the role of the Ministries and supporting their coordination: a) immediate elimination of co-responsibilities and transfer of those powers that can be transferred to other levels of the administration and b) establishment of drafting action plans for the Ministries in which it will be included the operational, the financial and the regulatory planning.
  3. Reform agenda for the next three years:  this agenda, if not agreed in every detail with social partners, however it must be known in advance and stable. No reform should be undertaken without prior consultation.
  4. Direct investments in administrative training: a) reinforcement of the role of the National Center for Public Administration and b) exploitation and best use of any foreign technical assistance for the dissemination of new knowledge in a targeted audience who are carrying out major administrative reforms.

All the above will be done successfully, only if the employees in the public sector a) reflectively take the responsibility for what happened or not ​​until now, b) work hard to support the reforms by themselves, c) support each other and manage to persuade the society that they are able to offer those services that the Society needs and expects. The new State passes only through the State beyond the current one. And all these can happen under one condition: the employees in the public sector by themselves will be able to restore and implement a new administrative patriotism.