The term “mindset” describes a generalised way of thinking. The term “generalised” refers to both the affairs that are of interest to certain individuals as well as to all individuals who have the same way of thinking. Αctually, the term prevailing mindset would be more accurate. We believe that the current mindset of corruption in managing the affairs of the public sector is at the root of the long financial crisis of our country. It is still not certain how much longer the crisis will last and when it will finally end, however, a shift in the current mentality could help find an effective solution for the prolonged crisis. Although changes to attitudes do not happen overnight, they can be the beginning of an optimistic development and eventually bring much-needed positive results.
The generalised mindset described above characterises the whole public sector, the central administration, the legal entities and the other public interest entities. There are of course some exceptions, but because of their small number, they cannot offset the general trend. The way that the budgets of ministries, public institutions and bodies are run confirms the prevailing mindset that we referred to in the previous paragraph. A careful examination of the budget of any public agency or body and the authorisation of expenditures shows their usefulness or otherwise to the common good.
In order to evaluate the allocation of the funds of a budget, we need first to examine the relation between a) the operational and consumer spending and b) the investment expenditures. This relation is of course influenced by the statutory powers and responsibilities of each administrative body. In most instances, the investment expenditures are much lower than the operational ones, and they are allocated according to non-transparent criteria, since they are not set by a democratic planning and do not correspond to political commitments. This trend is particularly prominent in recent years, to the point that instead of investment, we see divestiture, since hardly any funds are allocated for the maintenance of the existing assets, logistics and infrastructure.
The lack of equitable planning leads to allocation of limited investment expenditures with criteria governed by political ends and micropolitics, and serving certain target groups of citizens or certain preselectioned areas. This constitutes one more distortion, since the economic resources are not spent efficiently, the needs of the general public are not met and quality of life is not improved.
The operational and consumer expenses are allocated in such a way that it leads to overdevelopment of the public sector and the increase in the number of businesses and suppliers depending on it. This results in decreased productivity of government bodies and state institutions, and thus the prevailing mindset of the administrators is perpetuated. This has a negative impact on the tax paying citizens whose everyday needs are not met by the services provided by the state.
This prevailing mindset on the part of state administrators has plagued Greece since independence. The newly-liberated Greeks were not able to understand and accept the rational governing of Ioannis Kapodistrias, who had been elected by the National Assembly as the first Governor. It is worth noting that Kapodistrias donated the bigger part of his personal assets to the Greek National Treasury. In the few years that he governed, he established the rule of law and the foundations of sound administration. His vision included the common good of all citizens and the expansion of the Greek state to the north, from Arta on the west to Pagasitikos Bay on the east (these expansion plans were later abandoned). The prevailing corrupt mentality and policies had already been established during the years of Turkish occupation in order to benefit those powerful groups who were involved in the central administration. This culture continued until the Greek independence and was followed by four bankruptcies, one of which lasted for almost a hundred years, until the end of the previous century! It also led to high taxation, so that state loans could be paid back.
The general thoughts presented above, and in particular the imperative need for a mindset shift, should definitely be taken seriously by the public administrators of our area.