"Endemic corruption" will prolong Greek crisis, warns watchdog
Feb 29, 2012, 17:12 GMT
Berlin - 'Endemic corruption' and a 'crisis of values' will undermine Greece's attempts to rebuild its economy, corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) warned Wednesday.
'We all know about the debt crisis, but Greece is also suffering a crisis of values,' said Costas Bakouris, head of the agency's Greek branch, as it released a report into corruption in the country.
All walks of Greek society lived 'in a state of 'corrupt legality',' the report said, 'meaning that the law often condones or even fosters corrupt practices.'
Many ministries had 'special accounts' not subject to the normal rules of budgetary transparency, TI said, adding that it was most worrying 'given the role of budget opacity in the debt crisis.'
A further example was the practice of approving illegally built buildings after their construction, while only private companies listed on the stock exchange were required to be transparent with their accounts, the watchdog said.
The 'long-standing acceptance of corruption and fatalism about the chances of preventing or resisting it' perpetuated corruption, made reform more difficult, and meant many Greeks were indifferent to the public interest, TI wrote.
Public officials had been 'allowed to act for decades without any transparency or effective oversight,' the report said. Bribes were routinely taken, and fines, such as for traffic offences, could be avoided with 'ease.'
'This and other wrongdoing has eroded the rule of law and facilitated a culture of impunity,' it said.
'Political leaders must realize that this crisis is a unique opportunity to redefine lost values and re-establish national institutions,' agency chief Bakouris said.
'Greece urgently needs to see the emergence of leaders in government institutions who champion and lead the fight against corruption,' he concluded.
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