Prop­erty scam shows ugly face of cor­rup­tion

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Per­haps now is the time to ask some em­bar­rass­ing ques­tions. To be­gin with, who is the Di­rec­tor of Lands and Sur­veys for the whole of Cyprus? What is his an­nual pay scale and is it per­for­mance re­lated? Does he ac­tu­ally ex­ist or is he, like Brezh­nev, alive in body only?

The rea­son for this line of ques­tion­ing is very sim­ple: If such a per­son/post ex­ists, why has he not sacked the lo­cal Di­rec­tor in Paphos and as many of his lack­eys as nec­es­sary?

It has been a long common se­cret that if you want any­thing done with your (or ad­ja­cent) prop­erty, then you need to know the right peo­ple, in the right place and have the right amount in your pocket. Then came along the “pow­er­ful” watch­dogs, namely the Om­buds­man (for your com­plaints in the case of wrong­do­ing by pub­lic of­fi­cials), and the Au­di­tor Gen­eral, who thor­oughly in­spects ev­ery sin­gle set of pub­lic ac­counts of ev­ery gov­ern­ment of­fice and depart­ment. The re­sult? Noth­ing! They were fol­lowed by pub­licin­ter­est groups, the lat­est be­ing the lo­cal chap­ter of Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional. Have they achieved any­thing? Hardly.

Although the ef­forts of those afore­men­tioned should be com­mend­able, they never seem to have gone to the heart of the prob­lem. In other words, to catch the crooks with a hand in the cookie jar. (For now, let’s not dis­cuss the anti-money laun­der­ing po­lice unit Mokas). Imag­ine, all it took was a disgruntled (po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated maybe?) mayor to give the or­der and, lo and be­hold, a huge case file has been built up in­volv­ing a ma­jor prop­erty de­vel­oper and two (for now) mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials. You may ask, just two?

Noth­ing will ever change un­til our ego-driven buf­foons of politi­cians pro­ceed to im­ple­ment clear reg­u­la­tions that will en­sure trans­parency and mer­i­toc­racy, start­ing with their own dec­la­ra­tions in cases of con­flict of in­ter­est.

De­spite the Pres­i­dent’s grandiose state­ments or­der­ing his cab­i­net to de­clare ev­ery­thing at the start of the term, events have proven how mis­guided this show has been. Peo­ple in places still get things done, their way.

Un­less the law on whistleblowers is passed and prop­erly ad­hered to (with­out friends or rel­a­tives ex­ert­ing pres­sure on in­ves­ti­ga­tors) noth­ing will ever change. And judg­ing from the ap­a­thy by politi­cians and con­sumers alike who are sink­ing their heads deep into the sand, say­ing that “if banks dished out loans, why shouldn’t we ac­cept them?” we con­tinue to use the pres­sure sys­tem to get away with past mis­takes. We don’t re­alise that we are bur­den­ing our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, ie. our sons and daugh­ters, who will have to foot the bill of to­day’s cor­rup­tion and in­com­pe­tence, with the risk of even los­ing their pen­sions, if they ever had any hope of get­ting one.

Where, then, does the buck stop? Any­body?

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