Election pledges in full swing
E DII TO RII A L
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…