New Greek coalition government and moreover Deputy Minister for Infrastructure Christos Spirtzis announced the cancellation of former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ project for Free Wi Fi for all. Speaking to several media Thursday morning, Spirtzis justified the cancellation decision saying that
“the public procurement initiated by the previous government has been cancelled because it foresaw only the supply of equipment to wireless access points without any provision for telecommunication connections so allow access to the Internet.”
Spirtzis argued further that the project did not fulfill preconditions for materialization and furthermore it lead to inability to absord European Funds thus resulting in waste of valuable domestic resources.
Another point of disadvantage was that the project was designed to cover only a very small part of the Greek territory “while the proposed solution is being already covered by mobile networks of Fourth Generation (4G).”
The Deputy Minister sharply criticized the project claiming that it was a project for the sake of a project and that it did not serve any other purpose than “wasting valuable resources” and questioned the projects feasibility and effectiveness.
“Although the project has been running since a year, until today there is no design as to where the wireless access points (wi fi spots) will be installed so that citizens will have free internet access, there is no provision on who will pay for the telecommunication connections, the licenses issue remains unclear as well as who will pay for the operating cost,” Spirtzis said adding that there was no infrastructure in the Ministry to follow up the project.
It is not clear whether the project Free Wi Fi for all or for some will be redesigned or it will be cancelled for ever.
The public procurement was for the installation of only 4,000 wireless spots, while 40,000 were needed, anyway. Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had proudly announced the Free Wi Fi for all and preferably the young jobless on 5. November 2013. The generous offer was supposed to start be implemented after one year. Deputy Minister Spirtzis said that “the procurement offers had not been opened yet.”
The Free Wi Fi project had a cost of €25 million and was expected to be funded by EU’s “Digital Convergence”.
Notoriously overcharged Greek projects…
However Christos Spirtzis said something very interesting, something that quite some Greeks know about. About a factory of projects for the sake of …projects who have been giving money to politicians’ and political parties’ relatives and friends.
There is a whole factory of IT projects that are not designed to work but for funds collection. Sometimes they only burden the state budget. In many projects it is not the most sufficient way that is been followed.
“For example there are dozens of projects for intercity public transport bus services (KTEL) across Greece, instead of one project that it will be paid once. It is the same project for each KTEL, with budgets of €700,000 to €1,000,000. Instead that we pay once for the project, we pay it fifty-two times,” Christos Spirtzis stressed.
… and good old Greek traditions
Of course, we do pay 52 times. .Because every KTEL and every region has its local peculiarity and an army of people who want a piece of the public money pie. If we develop only one project and implement it to several local KTELs, BTELS or GTELS, the modification cost needed to adjust the project to the “local peculiarities” will leave the “locals” with a smaller pie of public money. And then the “locals” will complain to the locally elected lawmaker and he will have to run from ministry to ministry and bother the general secretaries and ministers and the whole thing will most probably end in economical and consequently political chaos because the hungry “locals” with small or no pies at all will go vote for somebody else.
For decades Greece has been paying millions and billions of euros for overcharged and often cloned and half-materialized projects. Otherwise how would the several “fractions of friends and relatives and clients” would earn their money?
Otherwise, how do you think Greece ended up to borrow money as if there was no tomorrow and it built up whole mountains of debt? It all went to “infrastructure” and “supplies” and “commissions”.
PS Is SYRIZA now going to spoil this game and break the good old Greek traditions?