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Cyprus

President outlines civil service reform plan (updated)

George Psyllides

President Nicos Anastasiades warned on Friday that his administration will not tolerate any delays to plans to reform the civil service in a bid to turn it into a flexible and effective organisation that will be able to tackle contemporary challenges.

In a policy statement delivered at lunchtime, the president acknowledged that any change was initially viewed with scepticism and reservation and that was why there was a will for communication and dialogue with public servants in a bid to dispel those concerns.

“On the other hand I want to be clear: We will not show the slightest tolerance to delays due to bureaucratic obstacles, the establishment, and outdated perceptions,” Anastasiades said.

The president said society, which is experiencing the effects of an antiquated system, was on the government’s side on this.

As was the overwhelming majority of civil servants “who are the first victims of a counterproductive system.”

“Consequently, and with all due respect to any differing approaches that are not related with the essence of the effort to reform, I call on the leadership of (government workers union) PASYDY to get actively involved and contribute to the effort to modernise the state,” Anastasiades said.

The reform effort will be based on five pillars: bolstering the capacity for strategic planning, drafting policy and coordination, restructuring the service’s operations, better use, education and reinforcement of human resources and improvement of relations between the state and public.

The fifth pillar will include actions relating to the operational principles and the values that must govern the civil service.

The plan is for the reforms to be in place by 2016.

The detailed actions concerning each pillar will be developed by the reform commissioner, society, and the public servants.

Through the reforms, people will enjoy faster and better service and there will be more transparency and accountability, the president said.

“The state will be supported by a flexible and effective public service that will be able to anticipate and tackle contemporary challenges,” Anastasiades said.

He added that the aim was the creation of a state that will serve and not inconvenience people; it will be modern, orderly, and above all socially sensitive to those who really need it.

“It will afford conscientious and hard-working public officers the guarantee of advancement on the basis of their abilities and performance and not on who they know or seniority,” Anastasiades said.

PASYDY boss Glafkos Hadjipetrou said the effort to blame civil servants for the island’s economic woes must stop.

He reiterated that it was the banks that made the mess, suggesting that there was an effort to provide cover to those who were really to blame.

Hadjipetrou said his union was willing to talk reform.

The first change should be to do away with the interventions from political parties, he said.

“The civil service should be left alone,” he told reporters outside the presidential palace where he attended Anastasiades’ news conference.

Hadjipetrou said the standards of the island’s civil service were quite high, comparable to those of any European country.

“That is not to say it is not amenable to change,” he said.

However, PASYDY does not want to get into a dialogue with the public service reform commissioner, whose appointment they consider illegal.

Anastasiades had made it clear during his speech that the role of the reform commissioner was to prepare a comprehensive plan, which would ultimately be approved and rolled out by the cabinet.

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