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State needs to restore public confidence

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Cyprus state officials need to brush up on their restoring public confidence skills, as people are tired of them sweeping everything under the carpet or blaming  ‘the system’ for everything from corruption to neglect.

Unconvincing comments by politicians of all ideological beliefs have simply instilled a sense of distrust among ordinary Cypriots, who have yet to breathe an air of optimism for almost a decade.

They have shown their growing frustration by abstaining from the ballot box, in numbers that continue to rise.

You have the Ministry of Interior reviewing the investments-for-citizenship scheme and declaring that if any recent recipients of the golden Cypriot passports are found to have broken international laws or convicted of criminal actions, then it will ‘consider’ rescinding these passports, numbering about two dozen.

At the same time, the competent minister, the government spokesman and a long list of others keep on blaming ‘foreign interests’ for tarnishing the good image of Cyprus, ignoring that it is the few crooked lawyers and accountants who are primarily to blame for this wrong-doing, with the tolerance of politicians.

On the other hand, you have a greedy club owner in Protaras with strong connections to the local football scene, who was arrogant enough to host overcrowded parties just after the lockdown was lifted and started an avalanche of public protest against his perceived connections to politicians or even the police.

This is, after all, the same district that elected a member of parliament who flagrantly broke all the rules by publicly consuming the protected ambelopoulia, caught through the illegal method of lime-sticks or net trapping.

There was the case of foolish individuals who climbed up a minaret in Larnaca to raise the flag of Byzantium, in protest at Erdogan’s controversial declarations over ownership of Ayia Sophia and that it was the looter’s right to keep the silver.

Such stupid acts simply fuel the already tense situation on the island, with some politicians making it harder to reach a solution to our decades-old division, which itself has become the stumbling block in Cyprus gaining its energy independence that will one day bring prosperity and social welfare.

With unemployment rising and hundreds not sure if they will get a paycheque at the end of the month, despite a renewal of the partially state-funded furlough programme, in contrast to privileged civil servants who abstained from work using the COVID-19 restrictions as an excuse to stay home, confidence in public institutions remains low.

A handful of state officials are doing their best to keep the system intact, with government coffers fast running out of cash and the national health system still suffering from teething problems, even though a year has passed from its launch and we are already into the second phase.

The occasional ‘mea culpa’ served up will hardly mend the dent in the average worker’s (and taxpayer’s) wallet, neither will intransigent teachers ever be convinced of the benefits of distance and e-learning.

Where a serious crime has been committed, the state should act fast by catching and punishing the real criminals, no matter how high up their connections may reach, and not ordinary people behind in their mortgages or payments in state dues.

Only then will the public regain confidence in the political system and perhaps, someday, elect decent people into office, at all levels.

Until then, we deserve the leaders we elect.