Saturday, July 19, 2008

Could there be anywhere in the world free of corruption in one way or another? While the world is full of ultra-greedy “snout in the trough” hogs I guess financial scandals will keep popping up. British politicians and MEP’s seem to be the latest in a long line of I’m all right Jacks.

Greece and Albania evidently being the only two countries in Europe without a land register, Greece was given an enormous sum of euro by the European Union to create one. The money seems to have disappeared, apparently without trace, or so we are informed, and Greece has been ordered to pay it back. Consequently we, the householders, now have to individually foot the bill for this creation, face enormous fines if we do not, and some of the poorest Greeks are going to be in a lot of trouble. But the problem is not just in the financial outlay but in good old Greek bureaucracy because the three page form is so complicated not even the Greeks themselves seem to understand it, let alone us expats who are what you might call deficient in the language and no one seems to know exactly what is gong on.

For weeks The Athens News has been full of questions and answers and I have no doubt there will be a whole lot more. What for example do the people who have property in Greece but who do not live in Greece do about it? A Greek neighbour in Athens is so bemused by it all she has decided to pay a lawyer (adding to the initial cost but relieving herself of the burden) to do it for her and, thankfully, she will get him to do ours which still leaves us floundering as to exactly what we have to do, if anything, in Crete because there are evidently areas where it isn’t happening at all! Supposedly it will all be wound up by the end of September. After that beware the fines!

Anyone having anything to do with Greek red tape knows how frustrating it can be. At the moment my sister and her husband hope to visit us from South Africa in September and have for weeks been trying to sort out visas. The amount of information required is out of all proportion for a simple two week holiday in this beautiful country which, at the moment is bewailing the drop in tourists and holiday makers. The latest bit of nonsense from the embassy in Cape Town which was not stated earlier is for proof of identity of the person standing guarantor who two weeks ago dispatched a letter of invitation, duly stamped. The Greeks love rubber stamps – desks sometimes hold carousels of them and in one government office I visited the girl attending my needs had a shoe box full and couldn’t find the one she wanted.

When the electricity in this house was transferred into my name I paid a not inconsiderable sum for it to happen; for the box, the plan of the house, the signature of the man who affirmed the plan to be accurate, the electrician who supervised everything and gave the okay, settling of the previous owner’s bill and a required donation to the electricians’ trade union, all in all a hefty sum. Having paid this at the cashier I had to go over to a desk to have the paper stamped at which the gentleman extended his hand and said, “Two hundred drachmas.”

‘Two hundred drachmas! What for?’

“For the stamp.”

‘I’ve just paid out thousands of drachmas and you want another two hundred for the stamp?’

“It’s the law.”

No comments: