Govt needs to show it’s lis­ten­ing

Cyprus Today - - OPINION -

THE find­ings of the lat­est Cen­tre for Mi­gra­tion, Iden­tity and Rights Stud­ies sur­vey must make un­com­fort­able read­ing for a gov­ern­ment fight­ing fires on sev­eral fronts.

Some will ar­gue that the ver­dict of the quar­terly sur­vey is too harsh. Just six months into its term, they would say, the al­liance is fac­ing huge prob­lems in­her­ited from previous ad­min­is­tra­tions, while also bat­tling a cur­rency cri­sis largely be­yond its con­trol.

It’s hard not to have some sym­pa­thy. And tough for all those new to gov­ern­ment to take crit­i­cism they prob­a­bly con­sider un­war­ranted. Yet min­is­ters need to take it on the chin. More im­por­tantly, they need to di­gest care­fully the un­palat­able mes­sage be­ing given to them.

While MPs may pride them­selves on the de­ci­sion to es­chew an es­ti­mated 1,000TL-amonth pay rise due to them, they would do well to re­call that for many a worker, even the amount of the in­crease rep­re­sents a third of a month’s take-home pay. The gulf be­tween wages for staff in most or­di­nary TRNC busi­nesses and those with the same skills and qual­i­fi­ca­tions lucky enough to ac­quire a job for life in the pub­lic sec­tor is vast — and that is the kind of eco­nomic in­equal­ity the gov­ern­ment needs to ad­dress if it is to im­prove pub­lic mood and con­fi­dence.

Add to this the sur­vey’s re­ports of con­cern on is­sues as wide-rang­ing as prices, health, ed­u­ca­tion, crime, cor­rup­tion, road safety and the en­vi­ron­ment, and it would be hardly sur­pris­ing if min­is­ters were reel­ing from the long “to do” list star­ing them in the face.

But mak­ing it plain that — to use a phrase beloved of UK politi­cians — they “are lis­ten­ing, and they get it”, would be a good first step. Ac­knowl­edg­ing the prob­lems, and com­ing up with short-, medium- and long-term plans to tackle them would show that they in­tend to act on pub­lic wor­ries, not just wait for them to go away, as too many have be­fore them.

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