Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

The DISY MP who saw the future

By Loucas Charalambous

I KNOW I have written about it in the past, but it is an extremely annoying phenomenon. I refer to all those who take part in public discussions, commenting on current affairs, giving their interpretations of how we became bankrupt and expressing opinions on how we should tackle the catastrophe. These saviours are in fact the main culprits of the economic meltdown.

The behaviour of AKEL officials, for example, is both ridiculous but also provocative. Instead of at least keeping quiet, seeing the scale of the damage they have done to the country, they have taken the moral high ground.

The same is true of PASYDY and its leader Glafcos Hadjipetrou that pretend they have not understood that the populism and demagoguery of our politicians who, for 36 years, kept borrowing money to satisfy the insatiable appetite public employees and created the public debt time bomb.

It was this debt that crushed our economy and forced the state to ask for the help of the troika, which Hadjipetrou and his comrades are still attacking.

The PASYDY leadership is now crying about the ‘massacre’ of public sector wages and the introduction of the new work hours. But when some people were warning public servants that this would be the result of their greed, they refused to listen.

Going through my archive recently, I found the minutes of the House plenum of December 7, 1990, which was discussing the state budget for 1991.

In a speech made by DISY deputy Leontios Ierodiaconou, there was a desperate, but also prophetic, warning to the PASYDY leadership.

The deputy spoke about the continuous bloating of the public debt, as a result of the rapid rise in the state sector payroll and warned of the future consequences.

Here are some excerpts from that speech:
“The state sector payroll is a burden that our economy has started not being able to carry. It is time the executive authority abandoned its populist behaviour and took on its responsibilities. The first step is to end the continuing bloating of the state machinery…. The PASYDY leadership must exercise self-restraint. It should have already started fearing its own power.

“In the future, this will benefit its own members, because if we carry on, along the same lines, the day of the crash-landing will come. And then it would be too late to save our standard of living. Then, it will be a luxury to talk about work hours and work conditions.

“Then, the numbers will talk and not union rights. There will be no money to pay the wages or if they are paid it will be with inflation hit money. Then, it will be too late.”

This was addressed to the PASYDY leadership 23 years ago. It never listened. The only thing it knew about was workers’ ‘conquests’, which Ierodiaconou referred to in the same speech.

“If to the payroll, we added the other working conditions such as the work hours, holidays, pensions and benefits, we conclude that the workers of the state service are a privileged social group.”

To comprehend how irrational the course we followed since then was, we should bear in mind that in 1990 the number of public employees was 26,376 and the annual payroll €466.5 million. In 2012, when state bankruptcy arrived, the number had more than doubled, reaching 54,000. The annual payroll was €2.7 billion.

These numbers alone, illustrate the scale of the lunacy that has prevailed in this country over the last 23 years. And of course, as the DISY deputy had predicted, today it is numbers that talk and not union rights.

Hadjipetrou and the PASYDY leadership must, at long last, understand this and also accept that they were accomplices in the bankruptcy. At the very least, they owe it to us to keep their mouths shut.

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