OPINION

One-sided contracts

In view of the apparent growth of public-private partnerships for constructing public projects, the recent remark by prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki – that the Attiki Odos contract was extremely one-sided – is very interesting. The prosecutor made it clear that this important contract should have been drafted by the state using entirely different terms in order to protect the interests of the citizens, who would be using the services offered by the project and to avoid favoring the developer. There had been objections from early on over whether the contract was equally fair to the state and private developers, over the time the developers would have to operate the project and over the «pledges» the contract would include (one of which barred the creation of an alternative mode of transport to serve airport commuters). But with the rush to prepare for the Olympics and the fact that such a major piece of work did not allow much scope for a total redraft, the contract was signed with plenty of benefits to the developers. Now, the toll charges on Attiki Odos can rise to 3 euros and developers have the right to operate it for 18 years before it reverts to state control. The Public Works Ministry is trying to gain control of the project earlier than that, arguing that the highway is being used by 50,000 vehicles more per day than had been foreseen in the contract. The chances of its success in this venture, however, are unclear…