What’s going on with public contracts?

1 min read

With the Cyprus government scrapping the €1.2 bln concession for the development of the Larnaca marina and port this week, one can only wonder if all public contracts are now under scrutiny, or is the administration running out of cash and needs to make projects more viable.

The confusion over whether the operator of the port and marina, Kition Ocean Holding, was financially kosher, and why it had not provided a satisfactory letter of guarantee, resulted in the state intervening and taking it back, only to hand it over, temporarily, to the town’s tourism development agency.

At the same time, just as President Nikos Christodoulides told his Cabinet that there was a “plan B”, with Kition saying it was not properly informed, all of a sudden the visiting Emir of Qatar is reported to have shown an interest in the project.

And this, despite the Cyprus government dragging its feet over a property development in Nicosia more than a decade ago, after which the Qataris backed down and are now building a multi-billion development at the old Hellenikon airport in Athens.

Is it so simple that the government can sack a project developer and hand it over to a new contractor, justified as being a matter of national urgency?

Or is it that all the contracts signed by the previous administration, of which Christodoulides was a Cabinet member for nine of its ten years, are now considered as dubious, corrupt, ill-designed and poorly funded.

The natgas regassification project at Vassiliko is up in the air, simply because the government has now realised that the Chinese operators never had the necessary experience from similar projects.

The government claims that the terms demanded by Chevron for offshore oil and gas exploration are unfavourable to Cyprus.

The Nicosia circular highway and feeder roads are doubtful if they will be completed on time, with the costs rising rapidly and the taxpayer expected to foot the bill, while the Nicosia-Evrykhou motorway, as well as Paphos-Polis proceeding at snail’s pace.

Even former DISY leader Averof Neophytou claimed last week that the Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity interconnector was “the biggest scandal” in recent history.

But it was his party’s administration and former president who promoted the project (or seemed to), with two more of its then-cabinet members vying for a seat in the upcoming European Parliament, probably to be rewarded for supporting (or not) the cable project.

Surely, President Christodoulides was present when cabinet decisions were made during the past ten years for all the above-mentioned projects.

If something fishy was going on, and he opposed these projects, perhaps he should say so. Otherwise, it is assumed that he was fully aware of the details, and now wants to change the terms or hand them over to other contractors.