By Poly Pantelides
LAWMAKERS are looking at overhauling a system of perks that sees dozens of state officials benefit from the use of a state-provided luxury car and dedicated driver, as well as all maintenance and fuel costs.
Until then, former President Demetris Christofias will not be getting some €43,000 earmarked for buying a new car, the head of the House finance committee said yesterday.
Nicolas Papadopoulos said that the committee’s members were looking to find a comprehensive arrangement for current and former state officials.
At a time of tight finances, the House needed to be “very careful” when it came to state benefits of this sort, Papadopoulos said. However, “discussion cannot be limited to that of the former president of the Republic,” he added.
He was chairing a discussion which covered a number of different suggestions on how to limit perks, with the Green Party’s George Perdikis looking to abolish the benefits enjoyed by former presidents and former heads of parliament. This includes an allowance for a secretary, a driver and a state car.
To that end, parliament has asked to be briefed on similar benefits enjoyed by representatives of local authorities and semi-governmental organisations.
The finance ministry said 51 vehicles and a dedicated driver were currently available to state officials, with all expenses covered including fuel and maintenance. This includes ministers; and the heads of state, parliament, legal services and the Supreme Court; the undersecretary to the president; government spokesman; the law commissioner; and the presidential commissioner. President Nicos Anastasiades’ wife also gets a car, as do other officials. Six former presidents of the republic and parliament also get cars.
Ruling party DISY is looking to limit car benefits to a limited number of government officials while coalition partner DIKO also wants to impose limits in engine power and vehicle emissions.
“The existence of a fleet of usually luxurious cars given to state officials is not justifiable either by the country’s economic situation in the context of a well-managed state,” DISY MP Prodromos Prodromou said.
EDEK’s Nicos Nicolaides said it made no sense to offer more than 50 cars to people with no real need of them in the context of their duties.