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Improving our flawed democracy

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In a democracy, one must use process and procedures and the voting system to get things done.

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

Alas, the results do not support this.

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

Most of our MPs look after their own personal and party interests.

There are many examples of this unacceptable and provocative behaviour, and I’ll just concentrate on some.

  • Deputy Ministries – Our proposal for the government to create a Deputy Ministry for the Ministry of Interior was not approved because the various political parties did not wish this administration to “accommodate” more jobs for the “party boys”. Such a junior ministry would have done wonders, especially if its job had been to look after Land Registry 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), the speed of replies and information required by the public.
  • Notwithstanding the initial objections by the opposing parties, the only two main Deputy Ministries approved by the House, Tourism and Shipping, have done wonders for the economy, streamlining the first and doubling the income for the second. These young Deputy Ministers in their early 40s, eager to work and with no prior political commitments, have produced a phenomenal success, despite their short terms in office. But this success can go wrong if “jobs for the boys” take priority.
  • The unacceptable stance of an MP who was part of a committee to examine the Non-Performing Loans offered the Chairman of the NPL pressure group to cooperate for mutual financial benefits. But, although reported, nothing came out of it, with the media absent from following up.
  • Concerned by the fear that next time it will be their turn to be investigated by the Auditor General, they compete amongst themselves who will be the first to explore such exposures – see the recent dispute between the Attorney General and 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 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.
  • If we are to go higher up in the hierarchy of the House, we note that its previous speaker had 16 private consultants to advise him on various matters that he is dealing with (notwithstanding his constant travelling abroad).
  • The non-attendance by MPs of the various House committees is not on even when EU guests are invited and attending.
  • The recent rοw of the passports issue is another cause for concern. But unfortunately, instead of coming up with corrective ideas, MPs compete with each other on how to hurt the Cyprus investment plan.
  • Our Euro MPs have no inhibitions about reporting the government on any matter to the EU.

We should introduce a system of penalties, not only for stupidity (which Is subjective) but also for those who place their own interest – political or otherwise – over the Cyprus economy and should pay the penalty.

In Greece, there is a proposal to make responsible both the ministers and House members.

If and when the Hellenic parliament approves this, it will be an example for us to follow.

It is no wonder why the voters in Cyprus do not turn up to vote, and the polls show exactly this (40% voting only).

I place great interest in the building industry to correct our wrongs.

The non-adoption of the Deputy Ministries is a major issue for Cyprus, and unless we do this, the problems will continue with no or little chance for improvement.

With the delays and inefficiency in the real estate procedures, it is no wonder how corruption is on the increase.

By Antonis Loizou  Real Estate Valuer, Property Consultant & Estate Agent