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Cypriot report
by Euro Reporter
2013-12-28 11:15:26
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No more jobs for the boys

President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday met coalition partners to try and tackle the thorny issue of appointments to the new boards of the semi-government organisations (SGOs), which he has pledged to shake up by ending the nepotism. The government says the appointments should no longer be influenced by political parties as has been the standard practice up until now, often with the results that SGOs were being run by unqualified people. Anastasiades said he convened the meeting with coalition partners in a bid to “tackle what in the past was a disadvantage; to avoid, as much as possible, party influence in semi-state organisations.” He added that from now on, only the most capable would be selected. Semi-state companies like the electricity authority (EAC) and state telecoms CyTA have always been used by parties as vehicles to provide public posts and employment to supporters.

In the past, administrations shared out the seats on their boards having the party affiliation as the only criterion. Anastasiades had pledged to change this though it will not be easy to allay the public perception of ‘jobs for the boys’, a system that has always been in place. Also with the privatisation of the semi-state bodies on the way, an additional challenge will be to appoint people capable of handling the major changes that are afoot, and not just the day-to-day running of the SGOs. Ruling DISY said it would not submit a list of names. “This task will be carried out by the cabinet together with the president,” spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said, adding that the aim was to seek and find people who were capable. Government partners DIKO said it would recommend people but it “will be based solely on qualifications, their status, and ability and willingness to work hard.”

Party spokeswoman Christina Erotocritou said the secretariat will convene today to be briefed by leader Nicolas Papadopoulos about discussions with the president. The administration has said that its effort would be to achieve wide representation on the boards. Reports suggested that people affiliated with the opposition would also be approached. Main opposition AKEL said it would not put any names on the table but did not reject the idea of having people from outside the coalition on the boards. MP Giorgos Georgiou said people fulfilling the criteria could be found outside the coalition, leftists and socialists, and possibly people who did not belong to any party. The new boards, expected to be in place on Monday, will be called on to handle the privatisation of the state entities, the main ones being CyTA, EAC, and the Ports Authority. Privatisations are part of terms in the island’s bailout agreement. Cyprus must raise €1.4 billion through privatisations between 2016 and 2018.


Cyprus to appoint new boards of semi-state services

President Nicos Anastasiades held a meeting with the leaders of the two main coalition partners on Friday, the ruling DISY’s Averof Neophytou and the smaller centre-right DIKO’s Nicolas Papadopoulos, to agree on the appointment of new boards for all semi-government organisations (SGOs), most of which are expected to be privatised, restructured or shut down. Anastasiades has said that he wants to appoint board members based on merit and their competencies related to the field of activity of each organisation.

“The most capable people, those who have the right abilities, they are the ones that will be chosen,” he said earlier in the day during a visit to the Nicosia General Hospital. Anastasiades said the meeting with the DISY and DIKO presidents was “to prevent what was in the past regarded as the biggest stumbling block in politics – the meddling of political parties in the running of these organisations.”  But DISY spokesman Prodromos Prodromou made it clear earlier on Friday that even though his party was not presenting a list to the president, suggesting names from among its supporters, as had been the case for the past decades, he expected to see people at the helm of the state-owned telco Cyta, the Electricity Authority and the Ports Authority “who will implement this administration’s commitments to privatisations,” as laid down in the memorandum of understanding with the troika of international lenders.

Trade unions have resisted government plans to privatise many such organisations as this implies layoffs, as well as an increase in productivity and profitability. They claim that the EUR 1.4 bln that the troika wants Cyprus to raise over the next four years in order to help pay down its public sector debt could be found locally and by efficiencies, something that has never been achieved in recent years.


Cyprus economic mood improves in December

The economic sentiment index improved by 0.9 points from the previous month in December due mainly to an improvement in the business climate within the retail trade, the manufacturing and construction sectors, as well as among consumers. This was the eighth consecutive rise in the index, reaching levels last seen two years ago.

The monthly survey conducted by the University of Cyprus Economic Research Centre said that the improved climate among consumers aspires from “a lesser negative projection for the economic situation in Cyprus, including unemployment, and households in the next 12 months.” The improvement in the retail trade and in the manufacturing sector is more related to the favourable anticipation for demand and output over the next three months, while an improvement in construction is based on fewer negative assessments as regards employment in the sector.

“Even though the projections for turnover over the next quarter showed a marginal improvement, the economic climate in the services sector showed some deterioration due to the unfavourable projections regarding demand and the economic situation of companies,” the survey said. “The fact that both business and consumer projections have been marked as lesser negative suggests a containment of the level of recession for 2014,” the survey concluded.


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