ECONOMY

Window of opportunity for concessions

The Development Ministry has decided to legalize direct concessions for state procurements, arguing that the approval process by the Independent Authority for Public Contracts (EAADISY) leads to delays in the implementation of growth initiatives.

The amendment, signed by Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Alternate Environment Minister Stavros Kalafatis and Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, was tabled n Friday in Parliament as part of a draft law for strategic investments. Under the amendment, authorities such as hospitals, municipalities etc will be able to opt for direct concessions without having first to apply for EAADISY’s approval, at least until the new law is enacted Parliament. Meanwhile, all direct concessions issued from the 2011 publication of current law to the date of the new one coming into force will also be deemed legitimate, if the amendment clears Parliament.

EAADISY has repeatedly blasted the practice by various institutions, mostly in the health sector, of resorting to the so-called “exceptional negotiation process,” i.e. direct concession, which is normally restricted to emergencies.

Sources suggest that some ministries had asked EAADISY to issue an opinion in favor of the amendment a posteriori, which it has refused to do. EAADISY claims that it had not been notified in advance of plans to table such an amendment, with one top officials telling Kathimerini that it should have applied for a much shorter period of time and only to decisions in very specific fields, rather than across the board.

“Now everyone will rush to make direct concessions until the publication of the new law,” the same official stated.

The same amendment further provides for the concession of a 10-year residence permit to non-European Union citizens provided they have acquired a property value at a minimum of 250,000, against original plans for a 300,000-euro threshold.

Also, any cases concerning jointly funded projects of more than 15 million euros will be evaluated beforehand by the Council of State’s plenary so as to avoid future claims.