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When the public interest isn’t served by politicians

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In a democracy dear reader, one has to use due process and procedures and the ballot box to get things done.

One would have hoped that with so many processes and procedures our House of Representatives would have had better governance.

What is most worrying is the small politics which prevail, the under-the-table dealings, the “tit for tat” which wounds the Republic, with little care about the public interest?

Most of our MPs seem to look after their own personal and party interests and we often wonder in this column Who loves Cyprus(!!).

There are many examples of this unacceptable and provocative behaviour, and we will concentrate on just a few as we cannot accommodate all of them!!

  • Deputy Ministries – Our proposal for the Government to create a Deputy Ministry of the Interior was not approved because the various political parties did not wish this Government to “accommodate” more jobs for the “boys” notwithstanding that such a Ministry would have done wonders. Especially if its job would have been to look after property matters (titles/common expenses/non-paying tenants), town planning (timely issue permits, deviation procedures, innovative ideas regarding the use of the building density, the crazy limitations on the residential unit sizes, speed of replies and information required by the public).

We point out that notwithstanding the initial objections by the Opposition, the only two Deputy Ministries approved by the House, that of the Tourism and Shipping, have done wonders for the economy, streamlining the first and doubling the income for the second.  These young people (Deputy Ministers) in their 40’s, eager to work and with no prior political commitments have produced a phenomenal success, despite their short operational period. Be that as it may, this success can go wrong if for such political positions sees “jobs for the boys” take priority.

  • The unacceptable stand of an MP who was part of a committee to examine the Non-Performing Loans and his offer to the chairman of the NPL pressure group, to cooperate for mutual financial benefits. Although reported, nothing came out of it (to this end we blame the press for not following up).
  • Concerned by the fear that next time it will be their turn to be investigated, by the self-promoting Auditor General, officials compete amongst themselves who will be the first to explore such exposures – see the recent dispute between the Attorney General and that of the Commissioner of Personal Data Protection. (For which some members jumped on the bang-wagon of self-promotion as if they have nothing else to do).
  • What has happened to the Bulgarian insurance company scam for which the Cyprus Government may be called upon to pay millions in compensation to the insured? No interest since it will not come with any similar political gains (we blame the media again).
  • If we are to go higher up in the hierarchy of the House, we note that its speaker has 16 private consultants to advise him on various matters, that he is dealing with (notwithstanding his constant travelling abroad of a most doubtful value).
  • The non-attendance by MPs of the various House Committees is simply not on and this, even when EU guests are invited and attending.
  • We are still awaiting the list of those MPs who are involved in the committee to discuss the NPL’s, but this has not as yet happened.
  • The recent cash for passports row is another cause for concern of our MPs’ ability and non-love of Cyprus. Instead of coming up with corrective ideas, they compete with each other on how to damage the Cyprus investment plan despite beneficial effects on the Cyprus economy (a recent poll showed 70% of the public support it).

We should introduce a system of penalties, not only for stupidity (which Is subjective) but those who place their own interests above the Cyprus economy should pay a penalty.

In Greece, there is a proposal underway to make ministers and MPs responsible for their actions.  If and when this is approved by the Hellenic parliament, it will be an example for us to follow (doubtful for Cyprus mind you).

The situation would be better if we had truly independent journalists, who would investigate such matters and follow up issues.

We have suggested in the past that depending on the quality of journalism they should be subsidised by the state based on recommendations by the University of Cyprus – it is a fact that the low paid journalists are governed by political parties and media owners.

Bearing in mind their very low pay, they cannot act truly independently for the benefit of the public.

For this reason, we have suggested, based on the University of Cyprus decision, to subsidise to 2-3 journalists per year with a similar recommendation for an award like the Pulitzer.

It is no wonder, dear readers, why the voters in Cyprus do not turn up to vote and the polls show exactly this.

Our column focuses on real estate and we place a major interest in the construction industry and how to correct the bad situation that we have at present and for the previous 20 years at least.

Not having more Deputy Ministries is a major issue for Cyprus and unless we do this, the problems will continue with no/little chance for improvement.

With the delays and inefficiency that exist in real estate procedures, it is no wonder how corruption is on the increase (in desperation the public turn to the political parties, who have influence in promoting political exchange for favours).

Winston Churchill said that “democracy is not the best system, but it is the best until we find something else to replace it”.

Any hope of improving the situation?  We doubt it.