NEWS

Private funds to build new hospitals

In the latest move to get the private sector involved in public works, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday that the government was seriously considering the construction of new public hospitals with the help of private money. Speaking after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Kaklamanis said the two ministries wanted to build several new hospitals to replace ones that were in need of renovation. The government will call on the private sector to help fund the projects, he said. The idea, which could help alleviate severe overcrowding in state hospitals, will be put before the cabinet in the near future. A draft law on public-private partnerships (PPPs), which is currently being finalized by the Finance Ministry, will pave the way for materializing the projects. Greece so far has three major PPP projects: Athens International Airport, the Attiki Odos highway in the capital, and the Rio-Antirio bridge in western Greece. The projects are operated by the consortia that helped build and finance them. They will come under state ownership in up to 50 years. A similar scheme would operate at the new hospitals, the ministers said, whereby private firms involved in the construction could operate some of the (non-medical) services offered by the hospitals for a certain length of time. Along similar lines, the government unveiled a plan last month to expand the country’s highway network by 50 percent through partnerships with the private sector.