THE attention-seeking rows the auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides likes to pick are becoming rather tiresome. His latest row is with finance minister Harris Georgiades regarding the secondment of an employee of his ministry who is also an official of Disy, to the European Investment Bank. Michaelides pointed out that the public employee had not secured permission from the Public Service Commission to hold a party post and was therefore in violation of the law.
As this is a legal issue, we would have thought it would have been the responsibility of the attorney-general to handle rather than the auditor-general, even if the latter had received the specific complaint. It appears, however, Michaelides has made it his responsibility to look into every complaint filed to him by deputies, looking to score points against the government, and publicly censure the relevant minister for incorrect decisions or omissions in performing his or her duties.
If the censured minister responds, Michaelides issues long, public announcements along the lines of ‘how dare you question me.’ Georgiades said that the auditor-general had “lost his objectivity and independence” and “turned into an official of the opposition,” as he was investigating “complaints by opposition deputies,” sparking a long and sanctimonious response by Michaelides from the moral high ground he permanently occupies.
The auditor-general’s response read more like a political party communique rather than a statement by an independent state official, proving Georgiades’ point about a lack of objectivity. Among other things, Michaelides described the minister’s position as “unprecedented and worrying,” and of being “completely outside the acceptable rules of behaviour.” He also included a defiant note telling Georgiades that his “groundless position and unacceptable behaviour will not prevent us from carrying out our duties.” These are the words of a political party hack not of a top-ranked state official.
As we have written in the past, Michaelides has lost all sense of measure, abusing his unaccountability and often behaving as some untouchable, super-minister judging and censuring everyone while not tolerating anyone who dares to question his wisdom. He has now extended his powers to the carrying out of audits of individual ministers’ behaviour and issuing his verdict on them. Will Georgiades’ “unacceptable behaviour” lead Michaelides to embark on a vendetta against him as he had done in the case of interior minister Socratis Hasikos who had the audacity to question the omniscient auditor-general?
If there is anyone’s position that is “unprecedented and worrying,” it is that of Michaelides, who is behaving like an arrogant bully. It is a pity, because he had done commendable work as auditor-general, before losing the plot and his credibility.