NEWS

Inspectors get cold feet over monitoring projects while gov’t stalls deputies

New Democracy parliamentary deputy for Ioannina Stavros Kaloyiannis was well acquainted with the shenanigans over Community Support Framework programs. Commenting on the two reports, he said that «there is no regional (PEP) or sectoral program which has not seen similar things happen.» This, he said, was because «the criteria for staffing CSF monitoring authorities were not based on meritocracy or transparency. Quite the opposite, I’d say. «As an example, I would like to refer to the fact that the head of the management body for the Thessaly PEP was a PASOK official. The criteria, therefore, for appointing the head of a supposedly purely technical committee was party political and not scientific.» When the time came to staff the Epirus PEP, Kaloyiannis alleged, an announcement was made for a chemist with experience in self-financing works. «They didn’t even ask for a chemical engineer. As you can understand, there are plenty of chemists with experience and knowledge. But chemists with experience in self-financing works, who may have worked on Egnatia Odos, for example, are few and far between. The announcement was tailor-made.» It was an important position, he explained, because the chemist would oversee environmental issues that were vital to the EU. Maneuvers A check on the qualifications of those who have gained position in PEP administrative bodies, the funding authorities and EDEL will turn up similar cases. The last-named is the highest body monitoring the works before Community funding is sought. The two reports (on the Central Macedonia PEP and the Crete PEP) are well within its remit. It’s interesting to see how the works’ finance watchdog responded. Instead of summoning the guilty parties, the monitoring committee spent considerable time and energy on maneuvers to get the reports withdrawn. When it failed in this, it tried to get them canceled. Thus the cases were never brought before a public prosecutor to apportion blame; in fact, some inspectors stated in writing that it was not their job to carry out checks, or that they did not know what they were required to monitor. Two of the three inspectors of the Central Macedonia PEP register their disagreement «because our authority to check on the feasibility, performance and efficiency of the projects does not derive from extant provisions of the law…» As for the Crete PEP report, initially, it was signed by two of the inspectors. The third claimed that he «didn’t understand the environmental and planning issues referred to.» Later, a second inspector realized that he, too, did not understand the environmental and planning issues involved. The whole matter was brought before the parliamentary benches in February 2003 by Kaloyiannis and other deputies. To a barrage of questions on the withdrawal of the two reports from the final overall review, the ministry mechanically replied that there were no «unified monitoring reports.» To the question why, after 19 months, no unified reports could be produced, the reply was that there were no unified monitoring reports because there were no such things. At some point, the ministry admitted that there were two separate reports on the two PEPs. But the demand that they be made public was not met. Questions on the «scientific background, studies, postgraduate studies and the necessary specialization of individual members of EDEL» remained unanswered. Equally, the demand that a member of the opposition participate in the CSF observation committee was also not met; the proposal was made by Kaloyiannis, in a debate on the bill on the management of CSFIII. «I didn’t ask to participate in the committee in order to oppose for the sake of opposing, but so as to submit our observations and proposals with responsibility,» the MP said. «I had participated in the first meeting on CSFIII, and when I made observations on some of the Epirus PEP projects, which is my responsibility, the chairman rose and told me, ‘You have to stop now, because you’re talking about a substantive matter.’» The CSF observation committee has not met since last July, despite being required to meet twice a year. As for EDEL, there are no scientists within its ranks. Its two directorates – planning and inspections and surveys and evaluation – sorely lack essential environmental scientists, civil engineers, planners, etc., and are rather full of less necessary administrators.