President accepts mistakes in consultant hirings

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President Nikos Christodoulides on Friday acknowledged errors in the hiring process of government consultants following a public outcry over recent appointments of seemingly unqualified persons.

Addressing the appointment of people who do not meet the criteria for ministry posts, Christodoulides said that mistakes were made within the existing framework.

The President said he met with the Auditor General to address the matter.

He assured that a specific proposal, currently being developed in collaboration with the Auditor General, Law Commissioner, and Legal Service, will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting.

The proposal aims to adhere to existing standards for consultants and assistants to MPs and potentially implement even more stringent guidelines for government consultants.

His comments come after Junior Minister of Culture, Michalis Hatzigiannis, found himself in hot water over hiring a 42-year-old woman with a prior conviction, resulting in a suspended prison sentence related to the distribution of counterfeit concert tickets.

The advisor met the requirement of having a clean criminal record, as her record has been cleared due to the expiration period outlined in the Law on the Rehabilitation of Convicted Persons.

She was appointed an advisor to Michalis Hatzigiannis, responsible for press and social media matters.

Outrage over the highly paid appointments of assistants and consultants to ministers and the Presidency intensified when it emerged that the deputy ministry of tourism had appointed a 19-year-old student to handle its social media accounts.

The 19-year-old was a staffer of Christodoulides’ presidential campaign.

The Presidency was in trouble earlier this week, as it emerged that a beautician had been appointed secretary at the Presidential Palace. She, too, was a staffer at Christodoulides’ campaign.

Christodoulides was questioned about personal mistakes, particularly regarding a media report concerning the appointment of his maid of honour.

Responding, the President argued that critics should avoid personalisation.

“During my campaign, I followed a path that led to isolation, but certain individuals chose to support me wholeheartedly, even leaving their jobs,” said the President.

Christodoulides credited their dedication and hard work for the achieved results. He urged critics to focus on him and spare others from scrutiny.

The appointments also drew the attention of the Auditor General, Odysseas Michaelides, who called it an abuse of the appointments system.

“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,” the spokesperson of the Audit Services, Marios Petrides, told the media.