Public contracts watchdog abolished

Public contracts watchdog abolished

A new government bill put up for consultation on Wednesday provides for the abolition of the Single Independent Authority for Public Contracts, 10 years after its creation. This is because although it is formally merging with the Court Cases Examination Authority, the latter is practically absorbing the former, but without all of its competences and operational features.

The truth is that the public contracts authority the government of George Papandreou created in September 2011 was never to any government’s liking.

Both of its previous chairmen resigned before the end of their mandate, while the current one, Georgios Katapodis, may have made it to five years at the helm, but with many clashes with governments, mainly on matters related to unjustified direct concessions.

The authority is now at loggerheads with the government on this bill too. It convened again last week and decided to recommend that the public consultation be stopped and a special legislation preparation committee be set up to process the bill. In its decision the watchdog argues that the draft law “displays a significant deficit in maturity and cohesion of the relevant clauses, as well as in sufficient technical processing, so that it puts at stake the overall operation of the new authority and the smooth transition from the existing system to the succession entity.”

In the same text the authority attempts to respond to one of the government’s main arguments, that the new entity for public contracts be more flexible ahead of the advent of the resources from the Next Generation EU fund: “A possible inability for the smooth operation of the new authority to stem from the planned ‘merging,’ or of the existing authorities to merge, during the transitional period (which is particularly likely) and therefore of the general system of public contracts, would come in a period when – ahead of the existing conditions with the Recovery and Resilience Fund – public contracts are obliged to play a crucial role in the recovery and growth of the national economy and society,” read the authority’s statement.

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