President Nikos Christodoulides’ administration found itself on the defensive over another appointment of a seemingly unqualified person to a well-paid government post after a beautician was hired as a secretary at the Presidential Palace.
Opposition parties accuse government officials of hiring another staffer from President Nikos Christodoulides’ election campaign, echoing a similar controversial appointment at the deputy ministry for tourism.
The employment of the beautician, who works as an administrative assistant at the Presidential Palace, was confirmed by the Auditor General’s Office.
In comments to Astra Radio, the spokesperson of the AG’s office, Marios Petrides, confirmed the incident, calling it an “abuse” of the appointments system.
Petrides reminded that during the recent meeting between the auditor-general and the president, the government appeared to realise the problem and committed to drafting legislation regulating appointments of advisors and consultants.
He emphasised that secretarial staff in the public service are hired by the Public Service Commission, saying that this process cannot be bypassed.
“No one can be appointed to the position of advisor to take photocopies, take minutes, and upload photos on social media.
“The public sector has people trained for these tasks, which can be seconded to assume duties in Ministries and Deputy Ministries,” said Petrides.
He also stressed that in cases where a consultant is deemed necessary, authorities should draft contracts stating that their employment will be terminated at the end of the Presidency’s term “to avoid incidents similar to the four associates to the former President Nicos Anastasiades”.
Last week, four consultants hired by former President Nicos Anastasiades won an appeal at the Constitutional Court after claiming they were wrongly dismissed following the end of Anastasiades’ term in February.
Left-wing AKEL criticised the government over the appointment slamming the Christodoulides’ administration for “nepotism, favouritism and misuse of public money.”
In a written statement, AKEL said the government was green-lighting various appointments without transparency, criteria, or due process.
“And this despite announcements made during the election campaign about establishing an advisory council that would deal with political appointments, and despite announcements about promoting legislation to regulate the entire process of hiring, qualifications and remuneration of advisors and consultants at the Presidential Palace”.
The Greens said it was another “blunder” by the current administration.
“Following the uproar over the appointment of a 19-year-old as a consultant to the deputy ministry of tourism now comes another gaffe from the Christodoulides government.”
The Greens said the 19-year-old was appointed to handle social media accounts without meeting any criteria — she had performed similar duties when working for Christodoulides’ election campaign.
Earlier in May, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism had appointed an unqualified teenage student as a highly-paid special consultant following a damning report by the Auditor General’s Office.
Christodoulides’ administration was also in hot water last month when the president chose as a board member of the public service commission, Michalakis Michael.
He resigned a day after being appointed when his academic credentials were questioned.
Michael, appointed to a seat on the commission responsible for overseeing civil service appointments, pay rises and promotions, got his master’s degree from Trinity Southern University and his doctorate from Canterbury University, both alleged to be bogus diploma mills.
Christodoulides has also been called out on several of his political appointments, with the Opposition claiming that he had appointed family members and friends to key positions in the government.