Property scam shows ugly face of corruption
E DII TO RII A L
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?