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Has Cyprus become a bad joke?

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Not a week goes by without a new revelation about unethical appointments in the government machine, mostly to reward dedicated individuals who worked hard for President Christodoulides’ election.

This is not a new phenomenon and has, unfortunately, been common practice throughout the years and by all administrations, regardless of the holier-than-thou finger-pointing by politicians.

Favouritism has been ingrained in the minds of many, a blow to college graduates who have little hope of ever finding a job based on merit and qualifications.

And young people remain seemingly apathetic and distanced from politics simply because “nothing will ever change”.

On the other hand, the police have taken a back seat to combat crime, using the pretext of a shortage in their workforce, and in the public eye, they are nowhere to be seen.

The force’s chief said that recruits are in the pipeline, the Justice Minister said hiring would be tweaked to allow non-commissioned officers to transition smoothly from the army, while a labour union official said 300 special constables are needed, on short-term contracts, to patrol areas frequently used by illegal migrants.

Then again, were we not told of a major ‘police reform’ a few years back?

And why is the police so rigid on its cadets’ programme when there are highly qualified and experienced individuals who can be hired for critical posts that current academy graduates cannot fill?

Another recent yet odd phenomenon, perhaps used as a smokescreen to fend off criticism from key administration personnel’s botched decisions, is creating new offices and redistributing tasks.

Almost like appointing committees to ensure decisions are never made.

A new unit has been charged to look into compliance with international sanctions to combat money laundering, possible fraudulent procedures in issuing of ‘golden passports’ and other dishonest practices.

Which makes one think, why, then, do we have the Auditor General, the Accountant General or even the financial crimes unit MOKAS?

And to imagine that only this week, it has been revealed that a major Malaysian investor, wanted in his country as an ‘Enemy of the State’, was not yet stripped of his Cypriot passport, while crooked lawyers and accountants continue to roam as they like, acting as fixers for oligarchs and members of Middle Eastern despotic families.

Furthermore, the Christodoulides administration, to project an image of transparency and honesty, now wants to create a Cabinet Office, with a team of a dozen civil servants and a political head, to oversee policy implementation by all government departments.

Do we need more special units to supervise the work of ministries and public servants, which should have been monitored anyway?

Surely, this should be within the duties of the Under Secretary to the President or another Palace office that reports directly to the President?

There is growing disappointment, especially among Christodoulides supporters.

And if we remain a joke in the public eye, the same applies to our reputation abroad, so nobody ever listens to us or takes us seriously, obliging Nicosia to give in to foreign pressures and demands easily.

All this should compel the government to listen more closely to the grievances of the public.

Almost three months after the ‘change of power’, perhaps nothing more than musical chairs, the main issues facing Cyprus continue to be safeguarding the country’s reputation abroad and ensuring job creation and economic growth.

Only with the successful resolution of these issues will it be possible to re-establish the people’s optimism for the future and confidence in the government and the economy.