Public works evaluations tangled up

Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, reacting to a report in Kathimerini yesterday which said that his ministry would award construction contracts that had been evaluated according to the «mathematical formula,» declared that contracts that had already been awarded could not be scrapped. The ruling New Democracy party had said before the March 7 elections that this method of evaluating bids for public works contracts would be scrapped. Critics say the complicated calculations allowed bids to be presented in such a way that favored bidders would win, irrespective of whether theirs was the lowest bid. Souflias, ND’s chief strategist before the elections, acknowledged there were problems with the method but he stressed that the ministry would have to continue with projects already awarded according to the mathematical formula while scrapping this for future contracts and bringing back the method of awarding contracts to the lower bidder. Souflias noted that three major portions of the Egnatia Road that have been awarded are being examined by the European Commission after a complaint by Greece’s Michaniki company, not because of the evaluation method but because Michaniki would not agree to one of the basic terms of the competition. Souflias said Michaniki had lost its case eight times in Greek courts and six times in the State Audit Council before taking it to Brussels. He said he hoped the Commission would allow the projects to go ahead within two weeks so they would not lose their funding, «as long as they are not contrary to Greek or European law.» Souflias stressed «the Public Works Ministry leadership does not need to be told that the mathematical formula, which for me is dead, has to be scrapped.» Souflias noted that nine other contracts had been frozen because of suits filed on account of the mathematical formula, but that there was no legal basis to scrap the contracts. «Let’s not make absurd demands,» he said. «Even if the mathematical formula had been scrapped by law the day after the elections, this would not have affected contracts that had been awarded under Law 2578/98.»