Zombie government and private jets

3 mins read

If we are lucky enough, we might spot the zombie government slowly waking up from its summer hibernation combined with effortless inertia to leave the country on auto-pilot.

It seems to be a given that government departments, the civil service and the public sector can all shut up shop in harmony and let the island run itself.

There is also a surprising lack of concern for the cost-of-living crisis ripping through Europe, with rising inflation stoked by soaring energy bills.

Cyprus might not rely on Russian gas to keep warm this winter, but fuel prices that generate electricity and heat our homes will not come cheap.

Across affluent Europe, people are agonising over how to pay their energy bills that are burning a huge hole in household incomes.

Supply chain bottlenecks unable to satisfy demand are also pushing inflation to record highs despite the summer lull in runaway prices.

Everything has become eye-watering expensive overnight – be it filling up the car, booking a holiday or the weekly supermarket shop.

Rising costs also affect wages and purchasing power – you can no longer buy the same basket of goods as you did six months ago.

And you can also be certain your less-than-adequate salary will not magically grow a few noughts to cushion the body blow of rampant inflation.

Although the economy seems to be chugging along just fine after a COVID-induced recession, tourism spending will not ease the pain of an energy crisis.

Can we rest assured that there are no financial booby-traps in the Cyprus rose garden ring-fenced against a global recession, the war in Ukraine, gas shortages and climate change economics?

In the absence of public debate and political concern, you would assume that Cypriots are so wealthy there is no fear of them falling into fuel poverty.

And even if they do, they can rest assured the underfunded welfare state will swing into action and serve them treats from a volunteer food bank.

There are no precursors of the tough winter to come; nobody is asking the hard questions about what the government is doing to steer us away from the energy wars.

What’s going to happen when businesses feel the squeeze? Power bills become unaffordable, and it’s either starve or freeze to death.

Maybe there’s a feeling that such a choice is not a harsh reality for many Cypriot households; there are no vulnerable low-income groups to help.

Or is it because the poor don’t have a voice, so it doesn’t matter; the government can ignore them and their financial hardships?

Winter is coming

It’s unlikely the introduction of a national minimum wage of €940 can save them – because inflation and fuel costs will eat that away.

The prevailing logic in this country is that there will be no winter of discontent but endless entertainment in the race for President.

A race among privileged middle-aged men who are exponents of the Cyprus problem blame game, not crusaders for social justice.

It is the kind of election debate that generates apathy.

None of these guys has a vision except to shovel platitudes about moving forward and doing better – well, you couldn’t do any worse.

The frontrunners represent a generation that has buried hope, tolerated corruption in public office and done nothing to prepare the country for climate change.

And the last thing you will hear them championing is gender equality, fairer distribution of wealth, diversity and investing in innovation.

They might mention it because their campaign manager says it sounds good on Facebook (they won’t be doing TikTok clips), or the ‘youngsters’ will repost their tweets.

They will disguise themselves as champions of reform and exterminators of corruption to win votes, but they are part of the rotten establishment.

Cypriots are struggling in a society that gives favours rather than rewards excellence, looks backwards, not forward and is reactive instead of proactive.

Nevertheless, whoever becomes President of Cyprus will be able to go on summer vacation in style after Greece gifted the Republic a hand-me-down government jet.

It was a relief for President Anastasiades as he no longer had to call on wealthy Saudi tycoons to give him a lift to Seychelles or New York.

Nobody talks about how much it will cost to run the plane for government ministers on ‘urgent business’.

You know there’s a scandal waiting to happen – because when it comes to the comfort of private jets, the code of ethics is ditched on the runway.

Oh wait, it’s also going to be used for humanitarian purposes — like getting someone out of Brussels sharpish.