Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The Chronicles of Panicos

Central Bank employees may think the media is ignorant but Professor Panicos loves the attention

By Patroclos

EITHER by accident or design Professor Panicos has managed to climb to the top spot in the ‘most hated man in Kyproulla’s chart. What makes his achievement even more remarkable is that he faced very tough competition, and needed to overtake long-established and popular hate figures like the village idiot, our friend Charilaos, Vgenopoulos and Big Bad Al to get to the top.

But he succeeded, through methodical displays of piss-poor judgement, shows of consistent, costly cluelessness, decisions that sucked, regularly avoiding taking responsibility, blind loyalty to AKEL’s commies and Tof-like obstinacy. His Akelite style in clothes, exemplified by cheap-looking shirts and hideous ties, also boosted his unpopularity.

The real clincher, however, was last weekend’s report in Phil about his super-salary, which, including non-taxable allowances, cost of living etc was estimated to be in the region of 14 grand a month. And this does not include the company car, the free meals provided by the Central Bank kitchen and other perks of the job.

It is a hell of a lot of money to pay such a blundering buffoon, but we must not forget that he performed the job for which he was hired by his AKEL comrades impeccably. Without meaning to, he did a professionally masterful job of wrecking the banking system and destroying public confidence in the banks.

 

PREZ NIK finally lost patience with the professor, with whom he had big row over his ridiculous delay in approving the directors of the Bank of Cyprus. In nasty Nik mode, during an interview on Mega TV on Wednesday, he revealed his intention to explore the possibility of putting in motion a legal procedure to have Panicos removed from office, on the grounds that he was performing his duties inadequately.

It took the prez a while to see the bleeding obvious, but announcing his plans on TV, before a decision had actually been taken, was not one of his cleverest moves. He probably thought it was the right time to turn the screw on Panicos. Not only was the public baying for his blood, but on the day of the interview an internal Central Bank memo branding Cypriot hacks ignorant and irresponsible had been made public.

It was a no-lose situation for the prez, as he would have everyone on his side, but the legal procedure was a bad idea. It might take two years before it is completed and then Panicos could win. Worse still, there might be no banking sector left to save, if the professor stays Governor for another two years.

 

THE ONLY real option for the government, if it wants to save the BoC is to follow the practice of football clubs when they want to get rid of their manager. It should pay Panicos’ contract in full and he would voluntarily resign.

The ECB would have no grounds to complain to the government, the professor would leave immediately (a 500 grand pay-off is a strong incentive) and the banking sector’s prospects of survival would be drastically improved. It is a win-win situation even though there would be a public outcry over the pay-off.

But it is naive to think he would heed the calls of politicians to step down when he has a contract worth half a million euro over the next three-and-a-half years that cannot be terminated by anyone; a contract that apart for the moollah, allows him to travel, several times a month, first class, stay at the finest hotels of the world, at the taxpayer’s expense, and rub shoulders with the EU’s movers and shakers.

And we should not underestimate the chauffeur-driven limo, the army of bodyguards, the media attention and the mega powers that come with the job. The job of the governor was the professor’s lottery ticket win that allowed him to escape the drudgery and boredom of life as an obscure academic at a provincial UK university and become a somebody.

Why would he voluntarily return to being a nobody in Leicester on a third or quarter of the salary he would receive for another three-and-a-half years and none of the perks? Unless he is compensated he will not resign. The compensation may be seen as an unacceptable reward for monumental failure but it would still be a small price to pay for saving the banking sector from the power-mad professor (the BoC could put up the cash if the state cannot afford it). If only we had done the same in the case of village idiot…

 

JOURNALISTS in all the media were outraged about the internal Central Bank memo, saying that they were ignorant about economic issues, grossly distorted facts and had an agenda. Even leaking information to hacks (referred in the memo as “one-to-one off the record briefings by the governor to specific journalists”) did not work, it noted.

The memo was written by the director of the Governor’s office, the nerdy, London-Cyp George Georgiou, also known as GG, who rose in the hierarchy when Akel took control of the Central Bank. Hacks’ knee-jerk reaction was however out of order. People who are constantly judging and criticising people should be prepared to accept similar treatment, instead of being so thin-skinned.

Our establishment took offence for another reason. It was not mentioned by name in GG’s memo despite leading the campaign against the professor from the first day he was installed. We deserved some recognition, or a special mention, in GG’s memo for our consistent ignorance.

 

THE LEAKING of the memo was another example of the incompetence and cluelessness that reigns at Panicos’ Central Bank, which is in disarray and staff morale is at rock-bottom. This could be because the die-hard Akelite secretary that took charge of the running of the bank when the regime changed in May 2012 and is still calling the shots.

Elena Markadji, who could have been described as a shrew, if the term was not considered so politically incorrect, became the Gov’s PA when Panicos was installed and has been responsible for decisions she should never have been taking. But the top brass, including Panicos, still follow her orders. One CB insider informed us that all the bank’s top dogs stood to attention when la Markadji spoke.

She spoke to the professor’s deposed right hand man Spyros Stavrinakis, as if he were her subordinate, reminding him, if he dared to disagree with her that “I put you there,” which she had. As for GG, whose promotion she also takes credit for, he is her obedient servant. The peculiar thing is that even six months after the election of a new government, the secretary and AKEL’s female enforcer is still behaving as if she is charge of the Central Bank and not even the Governor dares stand up to her.

I am sure GG will confirm that this is not a gross distortion of the facts.

 

THE SAME day we published the picture of the new chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, Professor Kristis Hassapis, in a black t-shirt, Phil had a picture of him in a suit and tie. But despite his effort he still did not have the look of a bank chairman.

First, he had had his hair blow-dried and although he lost the ageing rock star appearance, he now looked like an actor starring in a 19th century TV series. As for the suit, it was very ‘90s, the chairman probably putting on the only one he could find in his wardrobe. But I think I detected cuff-links which showed that he was making an effort to look banker-like.

I hear the BoC publicity office has already taken pix of him in a suit and tie that would be distributed to all newspapers and websites, with the request the pic of him in the black t-shirt is not published again.

 

THE MURDER of a man in Greece by the neo-Nazi thugs of Chrysi Avgi, which has ties with our own fledgling fascist outfit ELAM, was seized by our commies as an excuse to indulge in some heavy-duty pontificating about the fascist threat faced by Kyproulla.

The objective, I suspect, was to make us forget that in the last five years infinitely more harm was done to the country by communists rather than fascists. AKEL’s warnings of the fascist threat became big news and to step up the alarmism the commies even spoke about summer camps for youths, run by fascists.

Were there such summer camps in Kyproulla a prominent Akelite was asked on a radio show. The commie had to admit there were not and explained the party was referring to summer camps abroad.

In fact, the only youth summer camps we have on the sunshine isle are of the red fascist variety, run by the AKEL youth wing EDON. At these camps the kids are woken up by communist anthems and brainwashed into becoming AKEL fanatics, before they have even reached voting age.

 

THE MOST sinister of all the summer camps however, operates high on the Troodos mountains and it is run by the civil servants’ union PASYDY. These camps are attended exclusively by kids of public parasites who are inculcated with the ideals of the parasitic existence and the value of maximum pay for minimum work. Call me prejudiced but I can’t help thinking that the PASYDY summer camps pose the biggest threat of all to our society.

 

YET ANOTHER attempt to sign a deal for the supply of natural gas to EAC’s power stations and thus reduce the cost of electricity collapsed. After weeks of negotiations, DEFA, which would be buying the natural gas, failed to reach a deal with Russian supplier Itera.

The reason according to DEFA and the EAC was that the saving in cost, at the price Itera would supply LNG would be negligible. The latter however claimed there would be a 25 per cent saving (€800 million) over the seven years of the contract. Prez Nik was furious and ordered the Auditor-General to look into the matter.

The EAC’ costing formula is a big secret so nobody knows whether its claim that the saving would be negligible was correct. The prez, during his TV interview, asked why EAC’s cost calculations were such a carefully-guarded secret. Was the Authority afraid someone would want to copy its formula, which results in the highest electricity rates in the world?

 

I CANNOT say I felt the slightest bit of sympathy seeing the picture our former interior minister Dinos Michaelides leaving the Greek court in handcuffs. He is innocent until proven guilty but this humiliating treatment was deserved, because he was no saint. Apparently Dinos, who will be spending his time in a Greek prison awaiting trial, was answering questions for six hours. I am surprised he did not tell the Greek court that the cash he was allegedly transferring in his suitcase was advance payment for consultancy services he and his son would provide Akis Tsochadzopoulos for 10 years.

 

A FORMER Cyprus Airways pilot had been hired by Turkish Airlines reported Phil on its front page on Thursday. More disappointing than the actual story was the way that Phil presented it. There was not even a hint of disapproval about the fact a Greek Cypriot pilot would be working for the airline of the occupier. How could our bash-patriotic newspaper tolerate such treacherous behaviour and not take a moral stand? Is Turkish Airlines, described by the article as “the most fast-developing airline company in the world” a potential advertiser?

In fact Phil even suggested that the pilot would not behave unpatriotically. Turkish Airlines, it said, “flies to 196 airports in 103 countries, which means that it would be difficult to ask the Cypriot pilot to fly to the illegal airport at Tymbou.” But if he does, what would Phil say?

 

WE WOULD like to finish with a spot of positive news we have heard. The BoC will start giving loans. An advertising campaign offering loans is set to be launched next weekend, according to our sources. This is assuming the professor’s secretary does not decide it is too soon for the banks to offer loans and vetoes the move.

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