Elec­tion pledges in full swing

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

With just five months left to the end of the present term and the next elec­tions, Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades’ cam­paign team is in full swing, an­nounc­ing fund­ing for much-needed in­fra­struc­ture projects that took their time to ar­rive.

This week’s pledge was to the tune of EUR 35 mln for roads, schools and other projects in Fa­m­a­gusta dis­trict, say­ing “we have man­aged to re­store the cred­i­bil­ity of the state and the fi­nan­cial sys­tem, and cre­ate con­di­tions of sta­bil­ity and growth rates rank­ing among the high­est in the Euro­pean Union.”

Anas­tasi­ades also took credit for the Ayia Napa marina, a project worth EUR 220 mln, say­ing that his govern­ment had given the go-ahead for the Par­al­imni marina, worth an­other 100 mln, all of which are ex­pected to cre­ate jobs, both in the con­struc­tion and the ser­vices sec­tor.

This week’s pledges fol­lows sim­i­lar an­nounce­ments this year for new projects worth EUR 60 mln in Paphos, some 70 mln each for both Li­mas­sol and Lar­naca, and about 16 mln for the Troo­dos area, in­clud­ing a ca­ble-car project that could have the fate of many pompous dec­la­ra­tions with no sub­stance.

With un­em­ploy­ment com­ing down by al­most a third from the 16% nearly five years ago, the pres­i­dent is smug that he has achieved a turn­around in the econ­omy, which he says he in­her­ited in a dis­tressed state and was de­liv­er­ing in a healthy state. A pre-elec­tion speech could not have said it any bat­ter.

How­ever, although the govern­ment was in haste to exit the bailout pro­gramme, growth is still not too healthy, as the data sug­gest­ing eco­nomic progress is based on some house-keep­ing in the pub­lic sec­tor, bet­ter col­lec­tion of taxes and other sec­tors im­prov­ing on their own, eg. tourism, ship­ping and tran­sit trade.

Un­for­tu­nately, th­ese golden pledges will only add fuel to the labour mar­ket, in par­tic­u­lar the pub­lic sec­tor, where trade unions are ready­ing for their fi­nal push prior to the elec­tions, en­joy­ing the sup­port of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, as re­gards their de­mands for pay rises.

This ad­min­is­tra­tion dragged its feet on pri­vati­sa­tions and even­tu­ally dropped out of the pro­gramme. The pumped-up hype about nat­gas rev­enues has sub­sided, es­pe­cially with the ad­mis­sion this week that the Onisi­foros oil­field is not vi­able.

With real rev­enues not ex­pected to add to the state cof­fers, one won­ders where Fi­nance Min­is­ter Haris Ge­or­giades hopes to find the money to pay for the pay rises that he and the pres­i­dent have promised to civil ser­vants, ba­si­cally to en­sure their votes in the elec­tions. Trou­ble is, they don’t re­alise that civil ser­vants are the most un­loyal vot­ers and will still vote for the par­ties that se­cured them their jobs, re­gard­less of who is in of­fice.

An in­ter­est­ing cam­paign it will be…

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