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Transport ministry to take over handling of airport concession

Larnaca airport

The transport ministry will be taking over any handlings concerning the Hermes concession agreements, the audit office said on Saturday.

Though the 5.5 year concession deal was described as “scandalous and illegal” by the auditor-general, and has been the source of an ongoing row embroiling the finance ministry, attorney-general and EU Commission, an agreement seems to have been reached.

On Friday, the finance ministry sent a letter to parliament, calling on the House finance committee to release a €191,238 fund to purchase advisory services.

However once the auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides heard this, he contacted the finance minister Makis Keravnos and both agreed it should be the transport ministry handling the matters – rather than the finance ministry, according to the audit office statement.

The reason for this is that regulations specify the transport ministry is officially the only contracting authority to handle the concession agreements, the audit office added.

Michaelides stressed the €191,238 under no circumstances can be used for the PwC deal struck in July last year.

To this end, a new set of rules will be prepared that will ensure the transport ministry will call for an open tender for any advisory services.

The row came to the fore when Michaelides accused the finance ministry of illegally striking a deal with PwC and Ernst & Young without calling for an open tender. Specifically, the auditor general said the PwC deal, due to its value, should have been an EU-wide tender.

Though the attorney-general had been dragged into it to opine and sided with the finance ministry’s argument, Michaelides retorted that the attorney-general was covering up for the finance ministry.

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