IT projects will speed up but funds are not at risk

There is virtually no danger of losing EU funds due to the low rate of their absorption for information technology projects, confirmed the special secretary for the Information Society, Vassilis Asimakopoulos, and the president of Information Society SA, Constantinos Doukas, on Thursday at a meeting with about 30 entrepreneurs and IT officials. Although approximately 60-70 million euros are at risk this year, Asimakopoulos and Doukas consider it certain that there will be a deal with the European Commission agencies for these funds to be transferred to 2006. A similar deal last year avoided a loss of funds amounting to 100 million euros from the EU-subsidized Third Community Support Framework investment program. Asimakopoulos also announced that the Finance Ministry’s administrative authority is going to take a more active role in accelerating a series of IT projects delayed by the lack of interest or inability by ministries or public corporations, while Information Society SA is already «overloaded.» By the end of the year, 30 new projects will have been announced, 10 of which are worth more than 5 million euros each. The meeting focused on the problems in state IT projects, with sector officials pointing to the very long delays between the announcement of tenders and their awarding. Asimakopoulos countered that while a large state IT project tender would take about 2.5 years, this has now been reduced down to 12 months. Entrepreneurs, however, consider 12 months far too long, adding that although many projects have been awarded, five or six months lapse before contracts are signed. A case in point is the «Syzefxis» project, for the networking of public administration, whose contracts were recently signed. Asimakopoulos answered that it now takes three months from the awarding of a project until the signing of the contracts, due to the involvement of the relevant interparty committees, the State Audit Council and others. Further complaints came from companies that have not undertaken any projects for a long time. Other companies in the sector that have been awarded significant projects expressed worries about their financial problems. There was even an allegation against an unnamed company that has hired a member of the governing party as a consultant and has recently signed several contracts.

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