Deal over Athens Olympics spending

Facing a growing dispute over how extra Olympic projects would be paid for, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the head of Athens 2004, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, met yesterday and decided on a compromise. They agreed to set up a three-member committee to monitor spending by the State and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC), to determine what each will pay and to work out how best to contain costs. On Monday, the government said it would tightly monitor the two budgets. This was widely seen as an effort to bring ATHOC under supervision. The new committee’s members are to be announced soon and are expected to be two government officials and an ATHOC representative. Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced after his meeting with Angelopoulos-Daskalaki that they had come to the decision «within the framework of the autonomy and responsibility of each agency and ATHOC.» This was seen as an effort to assure ATHOC that it was not losing its autonomy. This also sidestepped Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who wants a projected shortfall of 733 million euros for upgrading Olympic facilities and for public utilities, and so on, during the Olympics, to come out of ATHOC’s budget. The committee has a budget of close to 2 billion euros and the government one of 4.6 billion euros. Neither wants to spend more. The government spokesman assured reporters there was no problem between Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and the government.