Familiar faces under different slogans

2 mins read

With the government almost out the door, ministers are busy scurrying around the country to open roads and community centres to prove its success.

There is a final cavalry charge for the Anastasiades administration to leave a lasting legacy as it tries to wash off the stain of corruption.

Well-paid public sector workers can also smell the government’s search for a clean exit after a decade in power.

That’s why the threat of industrial action has loomed large over the economy, with a general strike work stoppage called for later this month.

Unions want a full return of the automatic Cost of Living Allowance pay adjustment, which many in the private sector do not enjoy.

Undoubtedly, families suffer from high inflation, rising mortgage payments and the soaring cost of living.

Real issues are affecting prosperity and the island’s economic outlook.

Obviously, the government doesn’t want to sign off with widespread industrial unrest, but it knows it will be a problem for the new administration to grapple with.

For now, the government is quite happy to blow its own trumpet on the great things it has achieved, although its reform agenda has travelled at a snail’s pace.

In the main, the government’s investment in infrastructure has been with EU funds, but it still lags in encouraging start-ups, innovation, digital transformation, fast broadband and renewable energy.

Ministers like to boast about all their progressive policy moves but are short on detail.

For example, the General Healthcare System is touted as a pioneering success story.

Still, no figures are given on hospital waiting lists, how long it takes to be seen in Accident and Emergency wards or whether there are targets for such issues.

And the government is persuading us to go electric to protect the environment but fails to tell you that finding a public charging spot is harder than sighting a unicorn.

Similarly, the coming of e-government also slipped between creaky floorboards.

Crime is another area where nothing is said; we should assume the police are doing an outstanding job with no room for improvement.

Nobody seems to be curious about the crime stats or whether police vetting is of a high enough standard to ensure bad apples are not running the show.

Education is another key driver where scrutiny about attainment, curriculum and outcomes flies under the radar until we get embarrassed internationally.

Where is government policy on affordable housing and tackling soaring rents?

Great Cyprus swindle

It created a bubble in the property market by selling golden passports for real estate to foreign ‘investors’, ensuring first-time home buyers are screwed.

Apart from being shamed over selling passports to criminals – apparently, over 200 have been revoked – where did the €9 billion go that the great Cyprus swindle generated?

Maybe one of the leading candidates to become president can answer that, seeing as they were in the government that sanctioned the passports-for-cash scheme.

It seems that isn’t a huge talking point; everybody would rather pretend it didn’t happen.

Like everything else in Cyprus politics, nobody is digging below the surface because they know where the bodies are buried.

But international media habitually revives the stigma of dirty money linked to Russian oligarchs.

Whether unfair or justified, we brought this on ourselves because people in public office believe they can bend the rules or snap them completely.

The latest mud-slinging from US broadcaster CBS about Cyprus being the weakest link in EU sanctions on Russia was swatted away by Nicosia.

For once, the government produced hard figures to defend its integrity, data under normal circumstances that would not be forthcoming.

Certainly, Cyprus is in a better place than when Anastasiades first came to power in 2013.

A decade ago, the country was on its knees after casino banks bankrupted the economy, and many depositors got a severe haircut.

COVID reaching our shores was another seismic moment the government did well to navigate, and having a national health service helped.

In a few weeks, there will be a changing of the guard, although the odds are the new dynasty will be populated with old faces under a different slogan.

Vacuum-packed fresh ideas will be the order of the day until the system begins to churn in its old familiar ways.

That’s when the electorate no longer matters for the next five years.