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When jobs are determined by politics, not needs

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The parliamentary debate on the state budget this week was hardly critical of the government’s policies, especially on the issue of increased hiring in the public sector, at a rate far surpassing the retirements and departures.

Although considering itself in the opposition, the Democratic Rally party (DISY) tried to reprimand the Christodoulides administration for taking on (or planning to) 2,400 in the state and wider public sector, including a few hundred advisors rewarded for the work in the president’s election campaign.

DISY said the budget highlighted a worrying trend of escalating spending and an expanding state payroll.

It also said that three factors (mass hiring, increased CoLA, and the new pension plan) will lead to a 14% increase in the state bill within a single year.

But apart from grumbling about it, little is being done to curtail the growing government machine, simply because all parties want to continue placing friends and relatives in the civil service, a disease that will be difficult to cure.

On the other hand, Finance Minister Makis Keravnos said that hirings in the public sector should also consider the sustainability of the state budget, while keeping productivity as the main benchmark for further hiring.

His comments were not in response to the parliamentary debate on excessive hiring, but tried to justify why 50 vacancies were not filled at the crucial Health Insurance Organisation, the operator of the General Health System (GHS or Gesy).

These positions are necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the national health system, and according to the HIO’s development plan, 25 vacancies ought to have been filled each year, for a total of 75 in three years.

Instead, only 19 jobs were satisfied and the government decided not to go ahead with these positions, perhaps considering that these 50 would save the state billions of wasted funds.

Worse still, our deputies decided in their wisdom not to raise this issue, as a result of which the HIO said it would not submit its budget for 2024.

This is not blackmail, but a wake-up call for all to realise that some positions, especially those relevant to our health and the smooth administration of the public and private hospitals, are critical and far more important than the ‘jobs for the boys’ in little known government departments where productivity has been thrown out the window a long time ago.

Of course, Keravnos said that he is open to any meeting and discussion with any state body, especially the HIO. But this is a matter that should have been taken more seriously, by those putting together the state budget and the deputies elected to ensure that the taxpayer’s money is well spent.

Instead of squandering the tax euros on satisfying political obligations, it’s high time that the right people are hired for the right positions, if we truly want an efficient government.