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Budget at risk over corruption

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DIKO is the first party to say outright it will reject the 2021 state budget at the parliament’s plenum for final debate and approval on December 17.

It may be punishing the Anastasiades administration for its stubbornness not to assist the Auditor General in his probe into the cash-for-passports farce. But it is also hurting the rest of society already facing reduced spending, especially in education.

The centre-right party, with its seven MPs, hopes other opposition groups will also join in voting down the budget, namely communist AKEL with its 16 MPs, the two Greens and independent Anna Theologou, with a total 26 votes.

It needs two more to block the bill and send the government into disarray.

On the other side of the fence with 23 voices are ruling DISY party’s 18, Eleni Theocharous’ Solidarity with two MPs (the third seat is vacant and challenged by DISY), with three of DIKO’s breakaway MPs also expected to join.

That leaves the administration offering bribes to lure its adversaries, such as socialist EDEK with three MPs, the ultra-nationalist ELAM, that has two MPs and George Lillikas’ Alliance, which is on its final stretch before dissolution or merger with another party.

Except for the Alliance vote, whose leader often sounds reasonable and on many occasions in agreement with the administration, the other two parties will put down extreme demands to give DISY the right number of votes in the House.

It could mean the ruling party making concessions on the national issue and how to restart the Cyprus problem.

At this juncture, President Anastasiades will probably give in to these demands and condemn any prospects of solving the decades-old conflict to hardline views, just as is happening in the north at Turkey’s behest.

The government in Nicosia, too embarrassed to ask for any support or solidarity from our fellow EU members because of the golden passport’s fiasco, is already seeing Varosha slipping out of its reach.

Ankara will intensify it separatist stance for the north with further offshore natgas explorations, gaining support from Pakistan, Libya, and Azerbaijan, and possibly even among Arab League members.

It all boils down to the incumbent administration’s tolerance of corruption, made worse by going to extremes to make any incriminating evidence go away and undermining the work of any independent probe.

If only the president had allowed the audit-czar to do his job, especially as we have no other oversight body to keep the government in check.

Then, we would have had the state budget gliding through parliament, little noise made of any spending cuts, to ensure that civil servants get paid before the May elections.

After that, the administration is betting on the Covid-19 vaccine that will revive the tourist industry and President Anastasiades will be declared saviour and Caesar, having first decimated the economy and demolished what little reputation Cyprus has left.