ECONOMY

Gov?t aims at restart of highway projects

The government wishes to have construction work on the five major road projects across Greece restarted by the end of the year, after their postponement at the end of last year.

The reason the works were stopped that local banks blocked the projects? funding.

After several months of inactivity, talks among the parties concerned have intensified in the last few weeks as the issue is particularly important for the economy?s growth prospects, given that they total 9 billion euros.

They concern the construction of Ionia Odos across western Greece, the national road serving the northern and western Peloponnese, the Central Greece highway E65, the road linking Corinth to Tripoli and Kalamata from the north to the south of the Peloponnese (which is facing the fewest problems) and the Maliakos-Kleidi section of the national road from Athens to Thessaloniki.

This, of course, does not mean that a solution is anywhere near. The concession agreements that are under revision have very specific targets of progress, which means that any digression from what has been expected would lead to a significant reversal of future capital flow.

This is already the case with the reduction in traffic and passages from toll stations, that amount to over 10 percent of the original estimates.

What is more, if the construction project is reduced for some of the roads, as is being discussed for the northwestern Peloponnese road, it is clear that the relevant contract will change considerably, not allowing for any of the toll fare reductions promised by the government.