ECONOMY

Commission halts Kakia Skala works

The Internal Market Directorate of the European Commission has asked the Greek Ministry of Environment and Public Works not to sign the supplementary contract about works on the Kakia Skala stretch of the Athens to Corinth highway, as there are «sufficient indications» of a breach of Community law. This regards the tender proclaimed urgently in mid-August, although there had been no obvious reason for it to be brought forward. Back then, the ministry had invited only the three construction companies originally involved in the project (the cost of which has now more than doubled), as well as ATTIKAT which offered the lowest bid, provoking serious reactions. The amount of the new contract is close to 35.2 million euros and regards work to complete tunnels that should have finished months ago. After protest by the Michaniki company, which had not been invited to take part in the construction, the Internal Market Directorate sent a letter a few days ago to the ministry suggesting that procedures dictated by Community guidelines had not been followed. In the proclamation, the invitation to just those four companies was attributed to «their experience in projects of such kind and their activity in the region.» The ministry’s arguments caused many firms to protest, feeling a number of those present in the market had been left out. The letter also mentions that «for the said project, the Commission observes what has often been noticed in public works in Greece, especially in cases of co-funded projects (with EU contribution), that is, [they are] not completed within the original budget.» The Commission finds that «this is due to bad quality and failure of the relevant studies, which then lead to the signing supplementary contracts.» In most cases Greek authorities use loopholes in community guidelines and directly award supplementary contracts to the same contractors.