The right people for the job

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Alexis Papachelas is a guest editorial writer to The Business Thinker. He is currently the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”.

Greece’s politicians have at last realized that a number of the crucial issues facing this debt-ridden nation (such as the privatization of dysfunctional public utilities and the complex negotiations regarding the country’s mammoth financial woes) cannot possibly be solved without some assistance from private sector technocrats.

The existing employees in the public sector have proved themselves quite incapable of dealing with the challenges of the day. The entire state apparatus depends on a small number of experienced people — but these will not suffice. The issues at hand are complicated and the representatives of Greece’s international creditors are extremely demanding and skilled.

The problem is that (the governing party) PASOK’s populist ways both before the elections (in 2009) and during its first few months in power have put off any sober-headed person who would, under different circumstances, consider taking a position in the state sector.

When the Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou tries to convince private sector experts to leave their jobs and come to work for the “common good,” it will find itself having to pay for its “golden boys” rhetoric of the past.

For better or worse, there is a small number of people out there who possess the experience and know-how to handle crucial issues with international implications. It goes without saying that they will only leave their current careers and take on the risks of a public sector post if they are rewarded in accordance with private sector standards, and if they are guaranteed protection against legal campaigns by unionists and other vested interests.

The populism that has dominated the political scene in recent decades and the slurs made by certain media means private sector executives will certainly think twice before entering the public domain. For that reason, PASOK socialists and New Democracy conservatives must agree on certain candidates for key posts in the state apparatus, and protect them, otherwise the problems will remain unsolved, regardless of what political party happens to be in charge. If the political system wants to save the country from bankruptcy, it must rely on established technocrats who will enjoy protection and a good salary.

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Alexis Papachelas is the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program “The New Files” aired in Greece for 10 consecutive seasons. He has been awarded a number of distinctions both on his broadcast as well as his print contributions.  He studied History, International Relations and Journalism at Bard College and Columbia University in the United States.

Papachelas is the author of the books “The Rape of Greek Democracy” (1997) and “File November 17” (2002).

3 thoughts on “The right people for the job”

  1. This is so true. The state now more than ever is in desperate need of highly skilled professionals to deal with the complex and critical issues of this crisis. Of course they must be compensated if not more at least at the same level as they are paid not in the private sector.

    It is not surprising that many have already refused to provide their expertise to the government.

    The inadequacy of the public servants to resolve the mounting problems is confirmed by their inability to collect EUR 40 billion ($60 billion) of overdue taxes. Now the government will try to assign the tax collection to private collectors.

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