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Damaging the law of the land

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It’s been a year since the new parliament was elected, and with it a breath of fresh air, as at 36, Annita Demetriou is the first female and youngest member serving as House Speaker.

We’d hoped that Cyprus finally saw some change to conservative and male-dominated politics, especially with the Speaker finding herself in a bigger group of like-minded and younger politicians increasingly taking up key positions throughout European states and institutions.

However, the inexcusable delays in formalising or passing legislation are unrelated to gender, age or ideology.

It is simply a matter of stupidity, and no politician dares to deal with it, especially now that we are nine months away from the next presidential elections.

Such was the case this week of deputies haggling over femicide criminalisation.

A bill sponsored by Demetriou is facing obstacles. Some groups want to expand the power of the law to hand out harsher punishments for crimes against discriminated members of society.

The issue here is not so much the wording of the law but its proper implementation by all stakeholders, which would have made this and many other bills obsolete.

Police officers who did not follow up on allegations of abuse or missing persons due to ignorance or lack of training, social workers who did not see the signs, and society withdrawing into its cocoon of tolerance, makes them as much an accomplice as the person who pulled the trigger or committed the crime.

Speaker Demetriou is right to be furious that Cyprus has fallen behind on such a key piece of legislation.

However, within her greater efforts for parliamentary reform, she should have summoned party leaders to give them an earful, giving them a deadline to resolve outstanding concerns.

If the Legal Services or any other government department is to blame for the delay, she should say so.

And the stupidity does not end there, which makes you think about what parliamentary assistants do all day.

This was the case of another package of bills that struggled and finally got through parliament this week, linked to energy saving and having a direct impact on the incomes of households, especially with spiralling fuel and natgas prices.

It’s bad enough that Cyprus is a decade behind in converting to natural gas as our main source of power generation, paying tens of millions of euros in emission fines a year, or €400-500 per household, the current war in Ukraine and developments in the energy sector have pushed fuel prices skyward, making the urgency to switch to green energy all the more critical.

Once again, the dithering of state officials and politicians resulted in a faulty package of grants for insulation and rooftop photovoltaics, excluding the vast majority of homes on the technicality they had not secured the construction ‘final permit’.

Nearly eight out of ten homes and projects in Cyprus do not have a final permit, which is why title deeds are often delayed, and a new, more inclusive package was revised and returned to parliament this week.

It again begs the question – who caused the delay by not considering the realities of Cyprus?

With growing public discontent and younger voters apathetic towards the political establishment, shrugging off elections and their right to vote, it’s about time politicians started justifying the tax euros being spent to keep their privileges in the House.

Speaker Demetriou has a duty to the public to praise the few who do good work and scold those who do not, be they deputies or civil servants.