ECONOMY

Closer oversight of CSF III work

The Ministry of Finance said yesterday it plans to tighten supervision of projects financed under the Third Community Support Framework (CSF III) with the implementation of a monitoring system – in order to forestall punitive action by Brussels for breaches of contracts. The monitoring system will go into force on January 1, 2003. It will have a retroactive effect dating back to 2000 when CSF III kicked off. «The monitoring system is meant to pre-empt irregularities or breaches of contract. It will help Greece avert the risk of losing funds,» said Christos Pachtas, deputy finance minister. He said the system will be reinforced by penalties and the reduction of funds to companies caught violating their contracts. «We will impose fines, cut off funds and even name those who breach their agreements,» Pachtas said. He said the decision to crack down on infringers came even as Greece stands in no danger of losing community funds, unlike several other European Union countries. Recent reports from the European Commission also noted that Greece was not lagging behind in absorbing community funds unlike seven major member states. Pachtas said progress in approving and financing projects has been good. Up to the end of November, 7,818 projects out of 8,900 applications have been incorporated into CSF III. Projects ranged from the construction of highways to agricultural development to job creation and IT programs. Three-quarters of the national budget, or 23.7 billion euros, have already been activated. Greece is matching 21 billion euros from Brussels with 31.76 billion euros of its own over the six-year period. «The statistics showed we have dealt with various issues successfully and in spite of the complexity of CSF III,» Pachtas said. He said close to 100 percent of the national budget for the program is expected to be allocated at the end of 2003, three years ahead of the deadline.