Prom­ises, prom­ises... Deputy min­is­ters that never ma­te­ri­alised

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

One would say that it would be un­fair to crit­i­cise the govern­ment, now that ev­ery­thing seems to be go­ing well for it. Or is it?

On the other hand, isn’t this the role of a healthy press, to keep the govern­ment in check?

Yes, the Troika of in­ter­na­tional lenders has been dish­ing out hard, cold facts that the fis­cal sit­u­a­tion has im­proved and that con­trac­tion of the econ­omy is not as bad as ex­pected. But as with ev­ery­thing else, they tend to look at the num­bers pro­vided by… them­selves, based on mea­sures pro­posed by… them­selves. So, they could hardly say that the aus­ter­ity pro­gramme to make the govern­ment ma­chine leaner, more ef­fi­cient and less-costly had failed. Could they?

In the same spirit, GDP growth or the turn­around pace of con­trac­tion-to-growth looks bet­ter, our bond yields look bet­ter and even the bank­ing sec­tor looks bet­ter.

But that’s just on the cover. Look­ing deep in­side, de­spite the “gen­er­ous” sub­si­dies un­em­ploy­ment is still at ridicu­lously high lev­els, the bur­den on so­cial ser­vices is reach­ing break­ing point and the SMEs still don’t have any de­cent sup­port in or­der to exit their cur­rent demise and re­sume their tax con­tri­bu­tions to pay the civil ser­vice salaries.

We con­tinue to see a snail-paced re­cov­ery mode within govern­ment and those that gov­ern. We con­tinue to wit­ness the daily dose of mud­sling­ing by all against all. We have yet to hear a sin­gle politi­cian say “I’m sorry”.

More than a year ago, we had en­dorsed Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades’ can­di­dacy be­cause we be­lieved that only he could get us out of the mess the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion had be­queathed to us. The first few days and weeks, he was fly­ing blind, as even to­day he re­fuses to ad­mit that se­nior civil ser­vants duped him with mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Prior to the elec­tions, Anas­tasi­ades had even pledged that he would sup­port busi­ness. Well, we know how that turned out. And fi­nally, the cherry on the cake, the cre­ation of “up to” six Deputy Min­is­ters’ of­fices to re­lieve the bur­den on his Cab­i­net.

The ping-pong be­tween govern­ment and par­lia­ment has us all baf­fled. Was it an ur­gent mat­ter or not? If so, why don’t we have them yet? If not, why did Anas­tasi­ades de­clare he would? Just to dish out more jobs for the boys?

In any case, one of the Deputy Min­is­ter roles was sup­posed to have been for Ship­ping, see­ing as this sec­tor of the econ­omy con­trib­utes a steady 7%-plus to GDP. What a shame, then, that dur­ing last week’s meet­ings of for­eign ship­ping min­is­ters and in­ter­na­tional ship­ping cham­bers, we did not hear it from the horse’s mouth that “Cyprus will get a Deputy Min­is­ter for Ship­ping” or at least to add “soon” to the end of his sen­tence.

That is why per­sis­tent calls to the Pres­i­den­tial Palace on this mat­ter have re­mained unan­swered. Sim­ply put, even they don’t know.

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