THE LOW PRODUCTIVITY OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR

Reliable assessments by competent authorities show that our country ranks among the lowest in Europe in public sector productivity. According to the same reliable sources, Greece still has more civil servants per capita than any other EEC country. The above results, confirmed by personal experience, prove that services provided to Greek citizens are inferior to the ones provided to citizens of other EEC countries. These findings should alarm the governing party, particularly since low productivity is one of the reasons for the lenghty financial crisis that our country is experiencing. We should also add that any cuts in the number of the civil servants that has happened so far, happened only after strong pressure by a series of Memoranda of Understanding, which were forced on us by our foreign lenders! The way to avoid the disastrous consequences  that were brought by the above-mentioned low productivity is to retrain the civil servants and to pay them according to their improved productivity. However, it seems that the government is moving in the opposite direction!

   A close look at the reasons for the high number of employees in the civil service and their poor productivity, brings us to the narrow-minded personal gain policies of our politicians. Politicians govern according to their desire to increase their electoral base and get re-elected. The obligations that they must undertake upon being elected towards everyone for the common good of all citizens, becomes a secondary issue for them. According to research, these realities vary slightly between different governments, however, in all governments there has been a big gap between pre-election promises and their deliverance.

The following three points confirm what we stated above:

  1. Let us look at article 101 of the Greek Constitution. Paragraph 1: The administration of the State shall be organized according to the principle of decentralisation. Paragraph 3: Regional State officers shall have general decisive authority on matters of their district, while the central services shall have, in addition to special powers, the general guidance, coordination and supervision of the regional officers, as specified by law.

How does article 101 correspond to reality? The state has created nine (9) decentralised Geographical Departments and has given them limited jurisdiction. It has also assigned limited decentralised powers to the thirteen (13) Regions and municipalities, without, however, having also allocated the necessary funds. In this way, the state is able to have direct control over the regions. It also has direct or indirect control of all regional appointments!

  1. The Regions, which are in essence decentralised structures with limited powers, without direct financing and with responsibilities that coexist or get intertwined with those of the respective Minstries, end up dealing with issues that should be dealt with by the state. We see regional politicians trying to impress their audiences with verbose statements on issues which do not even fall under their area of responsibilitiy! This shifting of responsibility diminishes the powers of the regional officers and eventually leads to a lower standard of living for the people who elected the regional officers. A good example of this shift is the pre-occupation of the present President of the Peloponnese Region with discovering deposits of oil in sub-sea terrains, which definitely does not fall under his area of responsibility. Yet, the President ignores the issue of provincial roads, which need repairs and improvements, an issue which falls exclusively under his responsibility. Provincial roads need to be updated to today’s standards, and the President could utilise the manpower and resources available to him to improve these roads and make them safe, thus helping the regional tourist development and averting road accidents.
  2. The municipalities of our country, and in particular the rural ones, have inherited manpower that could be retrained in order to cover at least the administrative needs. However, the municipal politicians have done nothing to retrain their staff, or help improve their productivity. Also, they have done nothing to establish or improve technical services, as needed. They do, however, hire staff on temporary contracts, who in turn will help them get re-elected in the next election.

Let us not forget that the memoranda which were financing the needs of our country have come to an end. Now we are led to a new era, where we will have to find lenders ourselves. We are now faced with a painful dilemma: we either increase the productivity of our economy, particularly in the public sector, or the new high-interest rates on our foreign loans will lead us to a new bankruptcy…

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