Delays and excuses

About a year ago, the prime minister voiced his concerns over the delay in absorbing funds from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) and called upon the responsible government bodies to accelerate the process. Dimitris Reppas, who was government spokesman at the time, was more explicit, admitting that the procedures for including programs under CFSIII were quite time-consuming. Five months later, in December, the Cabinet confirmed that the problem remained unresolved. Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas came under fire from his colleagues who blamed him for an excessive amount of red tape. Then, Nikos Christodoulakis presented a bunch of measures in order to simplify and accelerate the procedures. Judging from what was said at the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Christodoulakis’s measures have failed to improve the situation. Pachtas was yesterday subjected to fierce criticism by an even greater number of colleagues who claimed that, on top of adopting the EU’s control regulations, the deputy minister has also introduced a set of extremely strict preconditions, assigning the administrative bodies with tasks that are beyond their competence. Regardless of the extent to which these accusations are grounded, ministers seemed to agree that absorption of CFSIII funds has come to a halt. As a result, a part of the blame was put on the public works minister, hoping that Vasso Papandreou will be more decisive. This seems to have been the essence of yesterday’s session, despite the optimistic announcements that 1,800 projects have already been included in the package, and some other more optimistic forecasts that 65 percent of the projects will have been included by year’s end. Greek citizens would like to believe Christodoulakis’s and Pachtas’s reassurances that «not one euro» will be lost from CSFIII. But it’s hard to believe this, given that for a year almost the entire Cabinet has been concerned (ostensibly) over the program’s delay but has failed to speed up procedures. Moreover, how can one be confident that programs to be included in CSFIII will fulfill EU regulations and meet the requisite transparency criteria? The government has to make sure that the same issues do not come up again in the next Cabinet meeting. There will be no excuse for the government should yesterday’s discussion – reminiscent of the one last December – be repeated three months from now.