Georgiades urges MPs to approve reforms before elections
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades has called on parliament to vote on government bills concerning the public service before its dissolution ahead of the elections in May.
The Minister explained that “the 2017 state budget must be prepared with this new framework having been granted”.
He said that Parliament must approve a bill which provides for the establishment of Cyta Ltd, a governmentowned company which will take over state-owned Cyta’s operations before a private investor agrees to buy it.
The approval of the bill by the Parliament is a prior action required by international creditors in order to approve the final tranche of about 450 mln euros, but opposition parties and their affiliated trade unions are fighting to block the deal, at least before the elections and the loss of potential voters.
“There are a number of bills that we need for the better functioning of the public service,” Georgiades told a press conference.
The bills concern a new system for assessments, promotions and mobility in the public service, as well as a new framework to link the state payroll with the course of the economy.
“We need this regulation as soon as possible and I think that the House should complete these procedures before it closes for the parliamentary elections to ensure that the 2017 state budget will be drawn up with this new framework in place,” the Finance Minister said.
Georgiades said that one last ‘prior action’ remains to be completed under the bailout agreement between Cyprus and its international lenders (IMF, ECB and EU Commission) for the last review of the programme and that is “the bill which was submitted to Parliament last August and regulates the establishment of Cyta company that will belong exclusively to the state, in the first stage”.
“That’s the last prior action, it is not even the denationalisation of Cyta,” he said, adding that Cyta will pass to private hands “maybe within a year”.
“It is a perfectly manageable reform, useful and necessary, needed first and foremost by Cyta itself to operate with flexibility even if it is owned 100% by the state, rather than as an extension of the public sector,” he noted.
At the same time, he said, Cyprus will conclude in the best possible way a successful programme.
“We want to send a message to investors and the international investment community seeking opportunities and prospects in Cyprus. We want to send a message to rating agencies still monitoring us that in Cyprus not only have we dealt with the worst of the economic crisis but we remain engaged in an effort to promote reforms, structural changes, prudent management of public finances, that we continue our efforts with seriousness and without complacency,” he said.
“Among other things it will allow the disbursement of the last tranche,” he concluded.