Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Georghadji calls for purge of semi-government sector

By Stefanos Evripidou

CYPRUS HAS no choice but to cleanse its wider public sector of waste and ‘entanglements’ and stop squandering public money, said Auditor-general Chrystalla Georghadji yesterday.

In an interview with state broadcaster CyBC, Georghadji highlighted the need to reform, privatise and in some cases close down semi-government organisations (SGO) to stop wasteful spending of public money.

“Did you know that the Milk Industry Organisation is housed in a modern, I wouldn’t call it luxurious, but very decent building which is at least 2,300 square metres? In reality, (the building) remains unused, when it could be used by another organisation, for example, the Agricultural Payments Organisation, which pays €500,000 a year in rent.”

The AG revealed that in her discussions with the troika about telecoms authority CyTA, the international lenders gave good arguments as to why the SGO should be privatised.

“When I personally raised the argument to the troika that we are talking about a profitable organisation, the reply I got, and which certainly can not be easily contradicted, is that CyTA could be more profitable if it was operated by the private sector.”

Georghadji described the current conditions in Cyprus as dramatic, saying: “We must remain committed to reforms which can affect workers, mentalities and interests. But there is no other way, we must save our country by eliminating entanglements, impunity, and contempt for institutions and laws.”

She added: “We must do it, we have no choice anymore.”

The auditor-general further argued that some SGOs have no reason to remain in operation, as they simply put a drain on public finances, like the Olive Products Council.

Other SGOs could be privatised while some could be integrated into the public sector, coming under the umbrella of certain ministries.

She referred specifically to the Cyprus Sports Organisation which could be brought under the wing of the Education Ministry, and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, which could come under the Commerce Ministry “to save general administration costs”.

Georghadji is visiting all SGOs to compile a report on them, which will be tabled before the House Watchdog Committee next month for discussion.

st� s PP�P{ all state property, including that belonging to semi-state organisations and municipalities.

 

“We will all take to the streets or work in the office, to give the message that we know what is going on and we do not want additional taxes on Cypriot society,” Kleanthous said.

Kleanthous urged the public to show understanding since the department’s other duties will inevitably be carried out at a slower pace.

In April, the government was forced to submit provisional immovable property tax legislation (IPT) in a bid to meet immediate bailout conditions, but pledged to have it amended by the end of June to make it fairer.

Authorities lacked sufficient data to prepare a comprehensive proposal but at the same time the bill had to be approved for Cyprus to be eligible for the much-needed first tranche of a €10 billion bailout it received this month.

“There are whole areas in Limassol, Nicosia, and Larnaca, where houses worth millions of euros are built, which do not have a building permit at the moment and are considered plots and fields,” government spokesman Christos Stylianides said at the time.



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