Who’s governing?

The big dispute between Greece and America, regarding prospects for Iraq and peace, eclipsed domestic affairs for a while, but now it seems that the home situation has deteriorated so much that citizens have become mainly infuriated with public works projects and the contractors handling them. A few days ago, opposition New Democracy’s honorary chairman, Constantinos Mitsotakis, encapsulated the problem in a simple remark: «Contractors cannot govern the state. The State governs. The contractors must conform.» A diagram published by Kathimerini on Sunday showing which building contractors handled which public works from 1991 to 2002 was exceedingly revealing about how such projects are assigned in this country. From 1996, the winners of tenders for projects have been determined on the basis of a mathematical formula. Since then, the Hellenic Technodomiki Aktor group has virtually swept the board, essentially creating a monopoly and controlling 50 percent of turnover in the construction sector. The government tries to ward off any criticism with the simplistic argument that all accusations leveled against it are part of an effort to discredit it, now that projects are entering the home straight and being handed over for public use. No one is disputing the value of the works. And after a delay of up to 20 years, as in the case of the Patras ring road, works are indeed being handed over – and our country is rising to the level its fellow EU member states reached in the 1960s.