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Municipal leaders and mayors want decentralization of administration

19 January 2010 / 10:01:21  GRReporter
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Needed is a reform of the administration that will decentralize and serve better to all citizens, which is the goal of an ambitious plan "Kalikratis" developed by the government. Municipal managers, mayors and lawmakers gathered at the regular annual congress of the Central Union of Municipalities and Town Halls in Greece, to discuss the reform agenda of the administration.   

"This event puts a new beginning for the state and local governments and this is happening thanks to the mayors and municipal managers," said PM Giorgios Papandreou from the rostrum in the central hall of the Music Palate in Athens, where the opening ceremony of the congress was held.

"This is the most important congress since the existence of the Central Union of Municipalities and Town Halls in Greece, because its subject matter concerns the reform of the administrative system, which will begin with a plan "Kalikartis" said Nikitas Kaklamanis, Mayor of Athens and President of the Central Union. He noted that for the first time in the history of the Union, 1000 people - governors and municipal mayors, have set themselves the question of suspending the existence of at least 2 3 of the departments in which they are currently employed! 

The "Kalikratis" plan performs all the changes that are necessary to decentralize the government so that people won’t be victims of heavy bureaucracy, supported Giorgos Papandreou. Human resources which were smothered, will be set free so that they can be creatively used for green development of the country, added the Prime Minister. 

He spoke of the expectations of citizens from the government and briefly said that providing transparency in decision-making and the ability to engage in dialogue and scrutiny by the citizens are crucial. The two major things that will lead to a more lawful country are: 

1. Every decision will be mandatorily published so that there can be control from society, which will be able to judge the results.

2. All vacancies will be announced on the Internet through ASEP’s system so that there can be common criteria and transparency. 

Regarding “Kalikratis” plan the Prime Minister said that he is laying the foundations for the new architecture of the state, and the main goal is better service to citizens, decentralization of administration and the enrichment of municipalities. 

President of the Association of Municipal Managers of Attica region Dimitris Drakos also said that the plan has many gaps that need to be clarified in order for it to work. A comprehensive reform, starting from the central government and the administration, is needed, said Mr Drakos. He put the necessary conditions to be approved by the local governors, and some of the main ones are the conduct of tax reform, to ensure the economic independence of local authorities, and the need to establish a code of operation for new institutions, in order to determine the competence of authorities. Competent staff on academic level needs to be appointed and also needed are funds for the functioning of the municipalities. "As long as these conditions are not ensured, which is the basis for the success of the “Kalikratis” plan, we will remain reserved,” said Mr. Drakos. 

Nevertheless, the most important thing remains goodwill and cooperation by all, in order to realize this new administration reform in the center of which is the citizen."Clear procedures and transparency need to become a condition for success, so that citizens can feel the presence of the new institution and support it," concluded Dimitris Drakos. 

The President of the Union Nikitas Kaklamanis said that the administrative reform is a radical change for the Greek state and that local authorities will be involved with the necessary seriousness and will assume responsibilities that are necessary to realize the initiative. 

Subsequently, Mr. Kakalamanis pointed out the requests of the municipal managers, for which he was repeatedly applauded by the audience. He said that there was a proposal from them for conducting a program to find employment of 20 000 unemployed, which the Minister has not approved. "€80 million is set aside by local authorities for implementation of this program,” so we are still waiting for a response from the government in order to see whether it will not change its opinion against the looming wave of rising unemployment. 

Greece is the most centralized country among the 27 EU Member States in which the periphery is entirely dependent economically and politically by the central government, said Kaklamanis, adding that this is because of the existence of numerous institutions and organizations that take power from local governments. 

National business plan for the development of organizations for local government - only 20% of the Greek town halls have certificates for managing funds under the National Strategic Framework for Development! 

It is necessary for the "Kalikratis" plan to formulate everything - to identify projects for implementation, to allow time for their implementation and to be known who will implement them. Moreover, Kaklamanis asked the government to bring €330 million for 2009, which will cover the payment of salaries and expenses so that the program for the unification of town halls can start on a clean slate. 

President of the Central Union of Municipalities and Town Halls is indignant that so far only 10% of the allocated funds under the National Strategic Development Framework have been invested and this program is now in its third year of operation and will end in 2013. 

The "Kalikratis” plan was criticized by the opposition party leader Antonis Samaras, who said that it has many gaps and inaccuracies. Leaders of other opposition parties also opposed certain sections of the “Kalikratis” plan and Alexis Tsipras - chairman of the parliamentary opposition coalition SIRIZA, openly stated that the funds are insufficient to implement the "Kalikratis” plan.

Tags: Kalikratis Plan Unemployment in Greece Economy in Greece
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