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Cyprus Editorial: Appointments on merit vs. koumbaroi

24 December, 2013 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

President Anastasiades is expected to appoint a host of board members who will take charge at most of the island’s semi-government organisations or state-owned institutions over the next few days. Already, the ruling DISY party has declared that it will not submit its own list of appointments-for-favours, not realising that such a statement is an admission to guilt by accepting that over the years they did abuse the system in order to have friends and relatives (aka “koumbaroi”) appointed on these boards, most of whom without the slightest sense of merit or what is good for the economy.
The difference is that this time round, few will proactively seek a board position as they will be scolded by idiotic trade union leaders as being ultimately responsible for the ‘grand selloff’ of state-owned assets and companies, such as the utilities or other bodies that have past their prime. Quite the contrary, those to head the new semi-government boards will have the added burden of following the president’s policy of streamlining the operations of such organisations where their predecessors have done nothing to make these companies more competitive, outward looking and productive.
The question that arises is simple: if political parties fear the backlash from intervening once again to have incompetent but loyal people appointed to these boards, how do we expect the chief executive of the state to know who to appoint and to which board?
Surely, priority should be given to those who have knowledge of the environment they will be working in or at least to be able to replicate their own experiences and know-how cultivated in other fields of interest.
Will the president rely on incumbent boards and senior management at these utilities to recommend names? If he does, it would be the most foolish decision of his 9-month administration.
Perhaps, the ultimate solution would be for the political parties to submit their own utility-specific names, but these should be made public prior to their being handed over to the president, so that the public will judge if the proposed names are based on merit or just a “filler” to conclude party quotas and representative of voter strength.
Maybe we will have proper people installed after all and after that we will see a true recovery of the economy, headed for growth. After all, it’s just a Christmas wish…