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Ministers must prove their worth

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The grace period for the new administration is over, and we expect immediate actions on many issues for the Christodoulides government to gain trust and rebuild public confidence.

The new president and his Cabinet were sworn in this week amid the tragic events of the train crash in Greece and the loss of two Cypriot students among the victims.

All state services in Nicosia and Athens were immediately mobilised, thanks to emergency protocols in place dealing with such incidents.

Families and entire communities have been plunged into mourning and will continue to grieve, rightly demanding to know ‘why,’ which is where the new president needs to show compassion.

Criticised for back-tracking on campaign promises of gender equality and appointing mothballed former administration officials, Nikos Christodoulides has done well with placing some fresh faces to lead his government.

Although many of the names selected were put forward by his minority coalition parties, suggesting obligations trumped competence, a handful of the new Cabinet ministers may be considered the president’s ‘dream team’.

The new health minister, former state labs director Popi Kanari, is undoubtedly the star choice of the administration due mainly to her passion for good, public-private management skills and outspoken character.

Coming from the health sector, heading the all-important Karaiskakion NGO and driving the community project to initiate a cord blood bank more than a decade ago, Kanari has set a very high standard, with all who know her expecting much of her. We’re sure she will deliver.

The new energy minister has finally broken the tradition of technocrats in this post.

For the first time, we have an experienced manager from within the industry, having worked at BP in Cyprus and the UK for a long time.

We expect him to initiate and drive a sound national policy for the next five years.

Since 2014, George Papanastasiou has headed the emblematic VTT Vasiliko energy terminal, a €300 mln project by the Dutch parent giant, which has continued to invest millions more in the energy hub, contributing tremendously to state revenues and the trade balance.

Being a staunch believer in ‘green’ resources, we expect sustainability to be high on the minister’s agenda, while he has already hinted that Cyprus should look to readily available supplies in the region, such as natural gas, to drastically reduce the cost of power production with immediate benefits to electricity consumers.

The new education minister, Athena Michaelidou, has extensive experience at the ministry and knows this department’s workings, juggling between the need to raise our national standard of education and skills and dealing with teachers’ unions.

President Christodoulides wants to be on top of the national issue, which is why he has appointed one of his many trusted close associates, Constantinos Kombos as foreign minister, with extensive knowledge of constitutional, geopolitical and EU affairs.

Interior minister Constantinos Ioannou was recalled from the previous administration, perhaps because of his earlier Cabinet experience.

He has two major issues to deal with, migration – which was high on the campaign priorities and even higher on the list of the president’s political supporters – and the long-overdue municipal reform that will see town halls merged and drastically reduced into efficient local administration.

Many other newcomers, such as ministers, junior ministers, and commissioners, need to prove their worth and should be open to constructive public criticism, especially in this age of social media and real-time communications.