OPINION

Tool for growth

The new bill providing for joint state and private involvement in public works is a major step forward in bringing Greece into line with the prevailing trend in the European Union and in most other developed countries in Europe. Indeed, whether regarding our EU partners, where the Stability Pact sets strict limits on state borrowing, or other countries, where fiscal restrictions are determined by the globalized market, it is clear that states do not have enough liquidity to provide all the necessary funding for the projects they wish to carry out, as has happened in the past. Joint private-state ventures are therefore the ideal solution for developmental projects in which payment is postponed, to be effected gradually through toll charges or paid in installments by the state. Apart from its importance for funding, where the state exploits the considerable liquidity of the private sector, freeing up funds for other areas, these joint ventures improve the quality and speed of construction. It is here that the private sector clearly has an advantage. Just as with the major self-financed road work announced a month ago by the Environment and Public Works Ministry, as well as medium-sized projects provided for in this bill, the state is looking to private know-how and the interest of private investors in order to complete projects both speedily and well. The state will continue to monitor construction schedules and quality, which will constitute the prerequisites for payment of the agreed installments. Having said that, the bill is not to be criticized for what it actually provides, but for the fact that it should have been drafted much earlier. After all, this government promised as much in its election campaign. As for the final judgment, that will depend on the results. As this newspaper pointed out with regard to the major projects, self-financing and cooperation between the state and private sector is expedient, but their degree of success can only be judged after the fact. The government has produced a positive legislative framework. It will only succeed, however, if the work is completed with quality, on schedule and at costs commensurate with their budgets. Only then will it become evident whether the government has transcended its past ills.