Attracting foreign investors
So, let’s see where this momentum for a solution is based and what the greater benefits would be or their impact on the economy:
• We have a President who firmly believes that now is the time for a settlement. This adds to the prospect of foreign investment.
• We have the opposition party AKEL that is coherent as regards only the Cyprus problem, and both parties (ruling DISY and communist AKEL) disagreeing at various levels and other minor issues such as the economy, but they could keep their disagreements at lower tones.
• We have two respectable presidents of both the AKEL and DISY parties, who, unfortunately, are unable to control some of their noisier MPs, resulting in a confrontation, that in turn causes an uncertain climate in the economy.
• However, adding to this uncertainty has been President Anastasiades himself when it comes to the economy, who has failed to continue with his initial determination to confront those hell-bent on destroying the economy – none other than the trade unions. Thus, with the National Health Scheme reaching its final preparation stage, with the first threat of a strike the project of national importance was postponed to meet the interests of the trade unions and to quote the former Health Minister Philipos Patsalis “th implementation of the NHS will be postpone for another 40 years.”
• Having already dished out EUR 1 mln per porter at Limassol port whose management will be privatised in 2016, some of theme are claiming more in additional compensation. Was their compensation not enough?
• Without any hesitation from the opposition (driven mainly by AKEL but other also follow) strikes are held at the port of Limassol just as we are seeking foreign investors. On the other hand we have seen what happened to the Port of Piraeus leased out to the Chinese company Cosco, which has also shown interest in Cyprus: the company has tripled its turnover in Piraeus and is now seeking additional space to expand its operations, with tremendous benefits to the local economy, the labour sector and the property market.
• Just as we have started to get our heads out of the cesspool of the economy, we have already started talking about a new consensus for more pay rises of 2-4% demanded by the trade unions and this regardless of the high level of unemployment. Is this not a provocation on behalf of the unions and the highly paid civil servants with the tolerance of the government? And yet, in Britain from where we have asked for expertise to reform our public administration, there is a system whereby every five years salaries of the public service are compared to the private sector as a result of which wages increased or reduced. This is the right way to do it and not the present system in Cyprus which is expected to continue and will keep on dividing the private and public sectors, while everybody else is struggling to get a cushy job in the public sector with fewer hours and multiple benefits. Thus, the uncontrolled government system directly affects the private sector and officials at all levels pursuing to join the public service. Even Pasidy trade union boss Glafkos Hadjipetrou blurted out that he “will not allow a further reduction of public servants and wages.” With this audacity, it seems he has appointed himself the new Governor of Cyprus to succeed Sir Harding.
They demand pay increases linked to the increased cost of living. Well, now that we have deflation and a reduction in the cost of living, will salaries remain unchanged or will they decrease? God forbid if anyone dares to suggest this, less than a year from the next parliamentary elections.
• Press reports suggest that taxi drivers from Paralimni / Ayia Napa want to abolish the public transport between the two municipalities which now ends at 12 midnight (previously it was all night) and to reduce this service to end by 9pm. Why, so that these mafiosi taxi drivers continue to charge EUR 8-12 for a 12 minute drive? Cheap transportation will help both resorts and so the tourists have the choice to move around between both municipalities, either by bus or evn by (expenseive) taxi, if they wish. What does the Association of Hoteliers have to say about this? Well, unsurprisingly nothing, coming from the group that wants everything for itself and without much concern for others.
• Now let’s talk about the measure to liberalise mortgage from buyers who repaid their dues, where once again we have an incomprehensible postponement on behalf of the political parties. I mention this because the more I think about it, the delay seems to serve the interests of a handful of politicians and the last-minute transactions or deals by major financiers or developers. • And then came the commendable Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, who offered to provide us with EUR 500 million in aid packages. And what was the stupid reaction of some parties? “He wants to buy us off with money!”
• Discussing the relations between Greece and Cyprus, parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou decided to remind us of the sacrifices Greeks made for Cypriots. What, then, about the sacrifices that Cypriots made for Greece? Had she forgotten our contribution from the independence struggles of 1821, to the Balkan wars, and then the first and second world wars with 50,000 Cypriot enlisted in the British army of a population of 600,000 and therefore saved Britain from mass enlistments. The sacrifices of Cypriots for Greece, unfortunately, do not count, nor that of the two Cypriots (a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot) who joined Greek partisans in 1942 to blow up the railroad bridge and cut off the enemy-controlled route between Thessaloniki and Athens.
Just because we aim to attract foreign investors, does not mean that these foreigners are ignorant, who do not study the history and culture of the place, read about the political stability or the common (if any) economic policy and strategies.
We need to pay a lot more attention and express love for our country, while the critics of our current economic situation are, perhaps, our only hope to correction the ills of the past and to attract foreign investors to the benefit and prosperity of the country.