Stricter rules after ‘consultants’ outrage

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In a move to win over the public trust, the Cabinet has approved a bill to regulate the hiring process of government consultants following an outcry over recent appointments of seemingly unqualified people.

The bill proposal adheres to existing standards for consultants and assistants to MPs and potentially implement more stringent guidelines for government posts.

It will now be submitted to Parliament to be voted on after regulations on hiring ministerial consultants were scrapped.

The government’s move comes after several appointments of people who did not meet the criteria expected for key positions.

One incident causing public outrage involved Junior Minister of Culture Michalis Hatzigiannis, who found himself in hot water over hiring a 42-year-old female associate with a prior conviction.

The woman was given a suspended prison sentence for selling counterfeit concert tickets.

She met the requirement for a clean criminal record, as her conviction was expunged under 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 also in trouble when a beautician was appointed secretary at the Presidential Palace.

She, too, was a staffer at Christodoulides’ campaign.

President Nikos Christodoulides was questioned about personal mistakes regarding appointing his maid of honour in a key position in the government.

“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 his victory.

But critics argued that those appointments did not go through due process and their qualifications did not stand up to scrutiny.

Phileleftheros daily said the Audit Office had requested the contracts of all consultants hired at ministries and deputy ministries since Christodoulides took over as President in March.

The Auditor General’s office has slammed the appointments as an “abuse of the system”.

“No one can be appointed to the position of advisor to make photocopies, take minutes, and upload photos on social media,” spokesperson for the Audit Office, Marios Petrides, told the media.