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Cyprus Editorial: Promises, promises – Deputy ministers that never materialised

18 June, 2014 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

One would say that it would be unfair to criticise the government, now that everything seems to be going well for it. Or is it?
On the other hand, isn’t this the role of a healthy press, to keep the government in check?
Yes, the Troika of international lenders has been dishing out hard, cold facts that the fiscal situation has improved and that contraction of the economy is not as bad as expected. But as with everything else, they tend to look at the numbers provided by… themselves, based on measures proposed by… themselves. So, they could hardly say that the austerity programme to make the government machine leaner, more efficient and less-costly had failed. Could they?
In the same spirit, GDP growth or the turnaround pace of contraction-to-growth looks better, our bond yields look better and even the banking sector looks better.
But that’s just on the cover. Looking deep inside, despite the “generous” subsidies unemployment is still at ridiculously high levels, the burden on social services is reaching breaking point and the SMEs still don’t have any decent support in order to exit their current demise and resume their tax contributions to pay the civil service salaries.
We continue to see a snail-paced recovery mode within government and those that govern. We continue to witness the daily dose of mudslinging by all against all. We have yet to hear a single politician say “I’m sorry”.
More than a year ago, we had endorsed President Anastasiades’ candidacy because we believed that only he could get us out of the mess the previous administration had bequeathed to us. The first few days and weeks, he was flying blind, as even today he refuses to admit that senior civil servants duped him with misleading information.
Prior to the elections, Anastasiades had even pledged that he would support business. Well, we know how that turned out. And finally, the cherry on the cake, the creation of “up to” six Deputy Ministers’ offices to relieve the burden on his Cabinet.
The ping-pong between government and parliament has us all baffled. Was it an urgent matter or not? If so, why don’t we have them yet? If not, why did Anastasiades declare he would? Just to dish out more jobs for the boys?
In any case, one of the Deputy Minister roles was supposed to have been for Shipping, seeing as this sector of the economy contributes a steady 7%-plus to GDP. What a shame, then, that during last week’s meetings of foreign shipping ministers and international shipping chambers, we did not hear it from the horse’s mouth that “Cyprus will get a Deputy Minister for Shipping” or at least to add “soon” to the end of his sentence.
That is why persistent calls to the Presidential Palace on this matter have remained unanswered. Simply put, even they don’t know.