By Poly Pantelides
THE House Finance Committee yesterday discussed the 2014 budgets of the agriculture ministry and the justice ministry, the bulk of which goes towards paying staff.
The justice ministry will be given €270.4 million to spend next year, compared with €299 million in 2013. A total of 82.6 per cent or a little over €223 million will go towards the ministry’s payroll, compared with almost €248 million in 2013.
Head of finance committee Nicolas Papadopoulos said it was a shame the tight state finances did not allow pushing major development works to improve the structures of Cyprus’ justice system.
But he said some projects, such as the much-delayed building of a new central prison would be going ahead on a public-private-partnership project.
AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said early retirements were impacting the police force’s effectiveness and said that cuts in important organisations, such as the Anti-Drugs Council, took away from their effectiveness.
The agriculture ministry has shaved off about €26 million in its 2014 budget, mostly through savings in administrative expenses, but the budget for development has been increased by 9.0 per cent.
The ministry’s 2013 came to €267 million and should come to €241 million in 2014.
The agriculture ministry wants to push agriculture, sewerage works and environmental projects, agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis said. Some €100 million will be channelled to agriculture, roughly as much as last year, Kouyialis said adding that €47 million of that would come from EU funds.
Papadopoulos said that increasing funds for development, given overall savings was encouraging for farmers and gave hope growth in agriculture could replace losses in other sectors of the economy, expected to contract next year.
MP with ruling party DISY Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis said the agriculture ministry was bulky in staff numbers and resources and needed to look at how it could tighten up its finances though his counterpart with main opposition AKEL Yiannakis Gavriel said just the opposite, lamenting “harsh austerity measures”.