Greece’s international lenders want an end to the practice of political parties taking money from the state treasury and spending it any way they want and are asking for accountability and transparency in a political system critics said is rife with corruption, cronyism, and self-enrichment.
The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) has written to the government asking for changes to laws governing the funding of political parties and the introduction of a code of ethics for ministers and lawmakers, unnamed sources told Kathimerini.
The letter indicates that the system currently is deliberately designed to be opaque and hide where the money goes. The ruling New Democracy Conservatives and its partner, the PASOK Socialists, used their share of free public money as collateral for 250 million euros ($347 million) in loans that aren’t being repaid at the same time they are insisting that Greeks buried under austerity measures the government imposed must pay theirs.
There has no accounting of where the loan money went either and despite having the loans plus taxpayer money, PASOK has been unable to pay its rent or some of its staff.
The Troika also proposed – it has no authority to compel it – that Members of Parliament and ministers be bound by set rules of conduct, while public officials should be barred from engaging in any kind of other professional or financial activity while they are in office. Many MP’s, besides their monthly salaries of almost 6,000 euros (plus four month bonuses for a total of 16 months pay although they are rarely in session) have outside incomes.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s aides have received the proposals and they are likely to be incorporated into a broader discussion about constitutional reform.
The government is hoping to make between Easter and the May 25 European Parliament elections a series of proposals on reforming the way politics is conducted in Greece in the hope that they help repair voters’ trust in the political system and regain favor after polls showed the ruling parties could take a beating in the elections.
Among the ideas being considered by the government are limits on how much each party can spend and the removal of some privileges enjoyed by lawmakers, including expenses to cover their administrative and travel costs. It is also likely that they will seek to change the law on immunity from prosecution for ministers and MPs.