And where does the buck stop?

2 mins read

When Nikos Christodoulides was campaigning for the Cyprus presidency and even after he was elected, he was basically declaring that “the buck stops here”, and that he would not tolerate abuse of power and squandering of public funds.

Yet, nine months later, Christodoulides was targeted by the Auditor General for being overpaid and enjoying excessive allowances when he was government spokesman.

The AG said that the president should return to state coffers an amount of about €55,000, to which the state chief executive responded that he referred the matter to the Attorney General for advice.

He did not admit outright that he had been overpaid, nor that if found in the wrong, he would return every cent.

But the amount is not the issue here. Rather, it’s the ethical argument that has been enjoyed and abused by every president, administration and ruling political party during the six decades of this Republic.

Perhaps the presidency’s aim is to create a smoke screen so that Christodoulides would appear as the fair and just president, returning whatever money he is said to have “over received”, while pushing the spotlight way from the other gross scandal of hiring friends and supporters as advisors and councillors in various government departments.

Reward for support

It is estimated that about 150 people, if not more, have been hired, as a reward for supporting the Christodoulides campaign, each with annual earnings of about €65,000, regardless of what they contribute to state policy making or decisions.

In fact, with almost all of them claiming some university degree, their qualifications seem satisfactory and their hiring legit.

But this is a privilege that no political party wants to surrender and aims to continue for years to some. Which is why a parliamentary debate has been set back to January, where they will first debate if these hiring are considered ‘associates’ or ‘advisors’.

Let’s not forget the social media ‘expert’ who was hired to advise the tourism deputy ministry, or the university professor who refused to give up the academic perks and even charged for overtime when travelling on government business over weekends.

With such a poor record in maintaining ethical standards, by not setting a good example to others, the current administration is fast becoming the talk of society, losing credibility by the day.

Even the revelations about fixers accommodating Russian oligarchs and their money laundering operations cannot be fully blamed on the previous administration, of which let’s not forget the incumbent president was a key figure for most of two terms.

With cost of living and rents going through the roof and wages not rising at a proportional rate, the general public is greatly disappointed that the promises of cleaning house will never be kept, and that corruption is to be tolerated, no matter who sits in the Presidential Palace.

When credibility is earned at home, then we can hope that Cyprus credibility can be restored abroad as well. Otherwise, our European partners and neighbours will never take Cyprus and its leadership seriously.