The General Inspector of Public Administration, Mr Leandros Rakintzis, talks to IBNA for the corruption in Greece and describes the corrupt state employee, who has a university education, is high on the hierarchy, is 20-25 years in service and is in a good financial situation.
By Spiros Sideris – Athens
Mr Rakintzis, the first report published by the European Commission for Corruption in Europe, revealed an impressive rate of 99% of Greeks who believe that corruption is a problem in their country. How close is the citizens’ estimate, with reality?
At the peak of the economic crisis, with tragic consequences for almost all the Greek people, the successive revelations of scandals and the way these are presented by the Mass Media, the reports of audits by the auditing mechanisms, in addition to certain judicial decisions have created the belief to the citizens that corruption is one of the main reasons for the crisis, which also prevents economic development. I cannot question the rate published by the European Commission, because I believe that each of the respondents would have had a simple example of corruption in mind.
What hinders the effective prosecution of corruption in Greece? The lack of political will or the contribution of citizens to the phenomenon, intentionally or unintentionally?
Tackling corruption is achieved by prevention, repression and the citizens’ cooperation. Political will is manifested in the prevention and suppression with a series of legislative interventions that accelerate the disciplinary control, the detection of misconduct, both criminal and disciplinary, and the penal proceedings during the trials of corruption. The positive is that people are progressively activated and have started to complain, they are interested in the progress of the cases and there is generally an attitude forming against corruption. Unfortunately, while we all condemn corruption with words, the first chance we get we use it even to erase a simple parking ticket. Therefore, the battle against corruption concerns us all.
In your annual reports, you have described as “champion” of corruption, the Local Administration. Regions, Municipalities, Municipal Organisations, remain major foci of corruption. What in your opinion is the cause of this? The political interdependence of the local government with Central power, the electioneering logic of local rulers or the lack of auditing mechanisms?
It is a fact that a large number of Local Government Organisations (OTA) show signs of corruption and maladministration to an extent greater than the tolerable limit, as shown by audit reports, findings, complaints, even reports in the Mass Media, which place them in the sectors with high delinquency, but our office does not proclaimed champions. The causes of this discrimination are many and vary from case to case, but in the circles of Local Governments there is the prevailing climate that those elected as the chosen of the people are accountable only to the people and are beyond control. Clearly there is an interdependence between OTA and Central Power, with the latter taking into consideration the political power of the elected representatives of the former. In addition, the control mechanism does not suffice for the control of the OTA, especially the remote ones.
What other areas of public administration, exhibit high levels of corruption and how would you outline the profile of the corrupt State Employee?
The level of corruption in Public Administration sector directly depends on the economic situation of the country. “When economic activity was flourishing we had problems with the “urban planning” authorities, then the NHS, tax authorities etc. The corrupt State Employee has a University degree, is high on the hierarchy, with 20 to 25 years in service, and in good economic standing.
NGOs have recently made headlines, but not for their work most of them, but for abusing government money and producing corruption. The new trend is called KOINSEP (Social Cooperative Enterprise). Have you taken steps so as to avoid a repetition of the phenomenon?
The emerging KOINSEP are being established by law, but with the speed at which they spread and given their link with OTAs there is the risk, which is amplified by the vagueness of their founding law, of the creation of a new generation of NGOs. Moreover, I fear there will be a circumvention of the provisions relating to free competition in the assignment of project contracts, mainly with the direct assignment to KOINSEP of project contracts that exceed the limit of legitimate direct assignment. I have already expressed my reservations and have initiated a series of exploratory surveys to be able to identify any problems, in order to propose solutions.
The investigation of corruption is certainly not easy. Did you in this effort had as allies the political power and Justice?
In the war against corruption the enlistment of everyone is required. In the present conjuncture there is a strong political will towards this end, but we do not have similar support from the administration of Justice, which delays to the limit of denial.