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What the 4412 Law change means for the public infrastructure projects in Greece

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The Recovery Fund is undoubtedly the greatest weapon for Greece, in its effort to restore and maintain a growth with serious results for the society. The big projects that are going to be included in this Fund are more or less known and it is no secret that the market wants them in order to be able to overcome a bad decade for the construction industry.

What is not certain and what many market players are worried about are the processes. The famous law 4412/2016, while having as its ultimate goal the modernization of public procurement and the creation of transparent procedures, quickly became the subject of distortion of tenders.

Until today, we have reached the point where tenders last for years and are finally solved only with the intervention of the CoC, as we saw as a recent example in the relevant procedure for Line 4.

There is no doubt that everyone, speaking of the also famous amendment of 4412, hopes with its implementation to reduce the phenomena of distortion and to speed up the procedures both during the tender process and the construction of a project.

After all, for decades, a model was built which was not “ergocentric” and the core of the whole process was not the work itself. Sometimes it was political. How many times have we not read how the works for a project begin and the competent politician talks about its completion in a very short period of time. But it was referring to the ideal scenario of zero delays as far the completion date of a project is concerned.

In Greece, however, the works never end on time and this is a common secret. Here we move on to the other dimension. In the different structures of the State which also do not have as their core the completion of a project but many times the promotion of their role. Approval of studies that may concern a Municipality, a Region, or an institution. The famous archaeological excavations, which for example in the Thessaloniki Metro replaced the project itself and became protagonists. Expropriations are also a field of delays.

Even contracting authorities, however, often contribute without realizing it to the delay of projects. Incorrect project studies, incorrect completion calculations, inability to monitor a project. These are the routines of every project and those who deal with it know it. There are projects that started almost at the initial time of their completion and others that instead of two or three years, make a “career”. Eight, ten, twelve years with time being lost somewhere between offices, claims, mistakes and delays.

And of course, the market itself has a share of responsibility for the delay in tenders and implementation.

Many tenders are cancelled due to “unholy” business wars to reach the end, ignoring the existence of the project. In the construction as well, some, having given excessive discounts, invest in the legal dispute in order to obtain the amounts that will ultimately make the contract profitable, ignoring the project.

The society also contributes to delays. Citizens’ movements evangelize a supreme good so that a project does not become a project. Really, why don’t we have citizens’ movements to make a project with the same militancy and the same passion for claiming? Citizens who with years of courts claim larger sums in expropriations but also societies that do not want a project in their place, but somewhere else while at the same time the problem is growing.

The system of production and implementation of projects is looking forward to the voting and implementation of these amendments that come to correct failures and problems not only of 4412, but also structurally, systemically.

But I am very afraid that even with this effort, what will not be completely solved is the nuclear power of a project from the moment it goes on the air. That is, how much the project becomes the focus and the ultimate goal, as much as possible protected from efforts or structural problems.

Especially in the case of projects financed by tools such as the NSRF or now the Recovery Fund that have suffocating deadlines, how do we ensure that the project WILL BE DONE? How will we secure a “price” contract that will put above all the final completion and performance of a project in society and that will ensure the effort of the State?

There are many answers to every question and nothing leads to a dead end. The optimistic message of correcting the problems brought by its implementation in 4412, is a huge step forward and the further strengthening of the production and implementation of public – in any form – projects will always be on the table. As long as the menu is smaller and smaller each time.

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