As equal citizens of our state, it goes without saying that the mandate we give to our representatives, elected by universal suffrage, is a mandate to maximise the effectiveness of their political administration. This authority is granted on the condition of broad agreement on the objectives pursued and of minimising the required costs. All this is described extensively and in detail for each area of political activity in the current Constitution. However, these are theoretical obligations that vary considerably in their implementation, mainly due to interference from the human factor, which dilutes the general objectives in favour of individuals or groups that have greater interference in the electoral process. Ultimately, many of these variations from the general goals come to the attention of the electorate, which ultimately elects those most consistent in promoting the common goals and with the lowest management costs. We will describe some of these deviations in more detail below.
Expensive party mechanisms, with their overstaffing and substantial administrative and promotional costs, absorb a significant portion of government spending. Of course, the direct funding of parties from the state was introduced in order to counteract their indirect funding by groups of powerful economic factors who were seeking to promote their own interests by integrating their goals into the general objectives promoted by the government of the day. The extent to which this has been achieved is always a matter to be proven and can only be determined after a detailed examination by citizens of the relevant legislation and its implementation in practice, which is no easy task.
Guilds, in the broad sense of the term, have a strong influence on government decisions, particularly in critical areas linked to everyday life and smooth social living. The privatisation of a large part of the state monopolies has reduced the influence of guilds through mobilisations for strike action, since their interests can no longer be promoted through the state budget and to a certain extent are in conflict with the interests of the new owners of these enterprises. However, the union influences, which ultimately lead to increased costs in the course of the implementation of common goals by governments, have taken another form. They are promoted, to a considerable extent, through informal arrangements between like-minded public and private sector professionals involved in the implementation of policy decisions. It is noteworthy that the present government has chosen ministers in many critical ministries from different professions and backgrounds from the main cadre of the sector. This generally mitigates guild-like choices in the management of state finances, but only at the level of central planning and legislation. A long-term and conscious effort is required to achieve positive management results, generalised down to the last state level, through the elimination of this kind of guild logic.
In particular, the public works sector is one of the most critical areas for the development of the above-mentioned logics, due to the high level of funding for public investment and its complex ramifications. A significant attempt to address side effects in this sector was made in the late 1990s, when major roads were designed and put out to tender. At that time, the political leadership (Souflias, Xanthopoulos) attempted to limit the large number of contracting companies by setting high financial and technological requirements in order for the bidding companies to be recognised and to be able to participate in tenders for large-budget project auctions. Reactions at many levels and from many directions have relativised the initial intentions. However, something important was achieved at the time: the implementation of major projects was linked to their long-term maintenance. Combined with bank financing for the construction companies, the good and safe execution of the projects was ensured through the possibility of control by the technical services of the banks, which were a third party between the contractors and the state, since banking interests forced a squeeze on the cost of long-term maintenance of the projects. From the above we can conclude that the way to eliminate the union influences in the public works sector is through the establishment and implementation of a legislative framework with competitive characteristics that can be applied in practice.
The catalyst for all of the above is the human factor and, in particular, the formation of the personality of citizens through the education system. The frequent lessons on the ancient Greeks should not be only of a verbal and pendantic nature, but they should also be focusing on the model of citizenship that our ancestors attempted to shape. The aim of education in ancient Athens was the formation of the ‘good citizen’. This ideal citizen gathered all the characteristics of Virtue, which according to Plato were wisdom, bravery, prudence, justice and piety, but also many other mental and physical virtues. The formation of the good citizen is also the only way to combat the rationales that lead to guild-like partnerships with weaken public finances.
In our region, Mani, these rationales have a small economic footprint, but because of the sparse population of the area they are very easy to see. Since the beginning of publication of our newspaper MANIOT SOLIDARITY we have been trying to discretely identify them and to contribute towards a solution…
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