War of interests

Given that in Greece the state manages almost half of the country’s GDP, local business interests are competing fiercely to get their hands on state contracts. So much the better, as taxpayer money goes to support domestic production, which in turn helps create new jobs. For example, public procurements this year alone reach 3.5 billion euros, while investments by public utilities will hover at 2.7 billion. An extra 5 billion euros will come from public investments and subsidies. The distribution of this mammoth sum has sparked strong competition between private interests, all eager to expand their market share. To do so, they curry favor with the political establishment – including public utility managers who have the power to directly assign projects. Political and business entanglement has been around for a long time, but the arrival of Costas Karamanlis gave hopes that this government would finally sever ties between politicians and their business cronies. So far, the prime minister has been extremely careful to protect the government against charges of preferential treatment. Unfortunately, news reports on the Public Power Corporation over the past few days have raised concerns about the state giant rekindling the Socialists’ corrupt governance. PPC Chairman Yiannis Palaiokrassas repeated that the war between business interests over his company is raging. Palaiokrassas is telling the truth as, according to sources, two large companies, one demanding cut-rate electricity and the other hoping to win big procurement orders, are trying to make inroads into the biggest public corporation. The prime minister should be careful with his next moves. The PPC must take advantage of market competition without being subjected to some new «national» supplier.