ECONOMY

Draft legislation over private funds for CSF III

The government agreed yesterday to draft legislation which would set out the structural framework for attracting private investors to help finance projects partially funded by European Union structural funds. The decision came after a Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and attended by the ministers of national economy, public works, transport, development and culture. The EU-sponsored Third Community Support Framework (CSF III), running from 2000 to 2006, will see Greece receive some 9.5 trillion drachmas from Brussels for infrastructure projects. The state and the private sector are expected to match this figure, bringing the total to 17.5 trillion drachmas. Unlike the previous two packages of structural aid, which were dogged by allegations of mismanagement and inefficient allocation of funds, the government is determined this time to put CSF funds to better use. Aware that this opportunity may be the last chance for Greece to strengthen its infrastructure and subsequently improve its standard of living, Simitis has repeatedly stressed the tough standards set out for CSF-financed works. The EU has also insisted on a stricter auditing system for the projects. Unlike the previous two structural packages, Greece stands to lose EU funding if projects do not meet deadlines and quality requirements. Yesterday, Simitis urged the ministers to speed up the pace of implementation. The legislation is due to set out the role to be played by prefectures, underscoring the fact that 80 percent of funds will go toward regional development.