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Our View: The silly and meaningless games played by deputies

SOMETIMES it is difficult to know whether our deputies are being serious or just having a laugh at our expense. It would be preferable if it were the latter, because this would mean that that the absurdities they serve up are intentional and not the result of suspect intellect.

This dilemma surfaced again on Wednesday when deputies discussed the issue of appointments and promotions at semi-governmental organisations (SGOs). After much debate a consensus was reached by which these would no longer be decided by the boards of each SGO but by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the members of which would increase from five to seven so it could deal with the bigger workload.

This arrangement, supported by all the parties, is aimed at showing that political parties wanted to put an end to the cronyism, also known as rusfeti, which was rampant in SGOs. Politicians wanted to regain the public’s trust, it was reported, by ending the party stranglehold that the party system had over SGOs. But would cronyism end when the PSC undertook the responsibility for appointments and promotions at SGOs?

After all, the PSC members are people with party affiliations. The five highly paid positions of the PSC are eagerly sought-after and nobody without strong party connections would be hired for the five-year term. It suffices to say the president of the Commission earns as much as the president of the Republic and the salaries of the four members are not far behind. What a joke to suggest that rusfeti at SGOs would stop once the PSC decides promotions and appointments.

But the parties are not in a big hurry to end rusfeti. The new measure would come into force in July 2015, when the term of the PSC expires and new members are appointed. And as part of the government freeze on public appointments, an extra two posts would be created on the Commission, to cope with the bigger workload of having to deal with SGOs as well and make decision-making slower and more difficult.

Another point mentioned at the committee but ignored by deputies was that by the end of 2015 at least €1 billion must be raised from the privatisation of SGOs. The remaining €400 million would be raised by the end of the assistance programme. But if the SGOs are privatised by the end of 2015 (all three big SGOs might have to be sold to raise the billion euro) what would be the point of the law to end rusfeti.

Privatisation would end rusfeti immediately, which is probably why the parties are so vehemently opposed to it. The question is: do our deputies have no work to do that they feel obliged to resort to these silly and meaningless games?

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