Engineers air grievances

Greek civil engineers yesterday voiced concern that the government’s 2006 budget, which will start being debated in Parliament on Saturday, will exacerbate already serious problems in their profession. «Engineers are directly hurt by the draft budget. We are witnessing a violent overturn in the profession. Public project contractors have seen a 31 percent fall in their turnover, tenders for new project studies have not been issued, public sector engineers have suffered salary cuts, while others are not recognized as unemployed for social security purposes. Hundreds of project study engineers remain unpaid,» said Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) President Yiannis Alavanos. He cited the ongoing project for the national land register as a characteristic example of the problems which the budget will create and the unequal treatment of project study engineers. «The Environment and Public Works Ministry requested 102 million euros from the budget,» Alavanos said. «It was allocated 35 million, which may be raised to 42 million. So far, it has received 10 million and a further 7 is in the pipeline. The register company owes 13 million for completed studies. However, at the end of the year, engineers will have to pay their 19 percent value-added tax and will be taxed for income they have yet to receive in their tax declaration next year… In total, the government owes 60 million euros to project study engineers and 1 billion to contractors.» He said that, according to TEE data, 44 percent of the projects subsidized under the European Union’s Third Community Support Framework (CSF) investment program, which totals about 51 billion euros and ends next year, have made no headway at all. He proposed an extension of CSF by one year and a restructuring of the 2006 budget.