New Democracy lawmaker Themis Cheimaras speaks in parliament in an October 2019 file photo. [Pantelis Saitas/AMNA]
In an op-ed published in Kathimerini on January 5, my good colleague Pantelis Boukalas expressed surprise at the term “orthodox entrepreneurship” used by the now-resigned New Democracy lawmaker Themis Cheimaras to describe his company’s operations to justify with the state (a forbidden practice). by the constitution for active MPs).
As we recently learned, a company owned by the MP representing Fthiotida in central Greece illegally signed 270 contracts with local authorities and public bodies in his constituency between 2019 and 2022, worth 400,000 euros.
With that, Cheimaras became part of the list of MPs who claimed ignorance of the law (Article 57 of the Constitution) which states that “the duties of an MP are incompatible with the job or capacity of owner or partner or shareholder or governor or Administrator or member of the board of directors or general manager or a representative thereof of an enterprise which … carries out public works or studies or procurements or the provision of services for the state or enters into similar contacts with the state for a development or investment nature … exercises by concession a public service or a public company or a public utility.”
Before Cheimaras we had ND MP Andreas Patsis, who is actually a lawyer and was fired from the ruling faction because of discrepancies in his asset declaration. Further back were Alekos Flambouraris and Olga Gerovasili of SYRIZA, who held ministerial posts at the time.
After the latest scandal was uncovered, Cheimaras said when he was elected MP in 2019: “I didn’t think I needed to change anything related to my business. I have decided to continue down the path of orthodox entrepreneurship.” We have no way of knowing if he really “didn’t think” about what the rules were, but it is true that dealings with the state is the orthodoxy of Greek entrepreneurship. In fact, it is his gospel.
In a way it makes sense. When the state generates more than half of the country’s GDP, a businessman would have to be a “heretic” to focus on the private sector of the economy. Especially when the public sector expands at the expense of the private sector. I wonder if anyone has ever counted how many new organizations, services, agencies, etc. are created by each government? Even the bureaucratic procedures of grants handed out by this government consume tons of paper and stationery that Cheimaras’ company has sold to public institutions. What sane businessman would leave the safety of the state to seek private contracts?
In addition, it has long been known that in Greece the “national champions” of the economy do not emerge through competition, but by inflating their revenues through state procurement.