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12° Nicosia,
26 June, 2024
 
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'The vilification of entrepreneurship'

Public procurement probe sparks tensions among industry titans

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

In recent weeks, Kathimerini ("K") has been delving into public procurement, an area that absorbs a significant portion of public funds. The focus was on the Nicosia perimeter road project, which holds crucial importance for the city. The public debate surrounding delays in major projects has once again brought to light the longstanding issues that govern public procurement, including the tendering and awarding of contracts. Similar concerns emerged during the period of revelations regarding corruption and kickbacks in waste management.

In an article published in the May 26, 2024 edition of K, contracting company Cyfield expressed annoyance with the content of two earlier reports in the newspaper. These reports depicted Cyfield as a company receiving a substantial portion of large public works contracts. The company's text suggested that K was unfairly targeting businesses with these reports. What seemed to have displeased Cyfield was the reports' mention of 'national contractors' and the potential creation of monopolies. However, neither of the texts contained any suggestion of irregularities or under-the-table procedures by the company. Instead, they highlighted existing loopholes in the framework governing public procurement. Specific references were made to cases where companies involved in the SAPA scandal continued operations under a different guise. Cyfield is presumed to be aware of these companies.

It should be clarified to Cyfield that the reference to a purported 17.5 years of extensions, allegedly requested by the company, was not made by K. The newspaper acknowledged the company's position regarding the extension time requested for the Nicosia perimeter road project, as conveyed by the editor of the texts and confirmed by Public Works. The information in both texts that irked Cyfield was derived from sources closely associated with public works. Despite the company's insistence in its text that its activities were unobjectionable, there was no insinuation to the contrary in the K article.

K has never vilified entrepreneurship but has instead supported it through articles, opinions, and specific actions. The newspaper has been particularly critical of unethical business practices, as evidenced by various scandals exposed and confirmed in court in recent years.

While references to the importance of press freedom are appreciated, they should not be merely rhetorical. If there are concerns about oligopolies in the construction industry, the company should address them transparently. To ascertain the truth, the author of both pieces attempted to contact a senior company executive for comment, but they declined to provide an opinion. The situation appears to be of concern to the government, as indicated by the statements of government spokesman Konstantinos Letibiotis. Transparency and accountability are paramount in addressing such matters.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and edited for clarity]

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