THE government and main opposition party AKEL yesterday exchanged blows over the economy again, focusing on imminent privatisation plans and the effects of the crisis on society.
AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said whereas public discussion focused on wage cuts, there was no discussion on how to better support the vulnerable. The state’s budget is even stricter than what the troika [of lenders] asked for so the state should be looking to make cuts elsewhere and not from the public, Kyprianou said.
Kyprianou said his party would stand against all moves to privatise any semi-state companies.
“These organisations play a social role, support the state whenever it needs help, offer jobs to thousands of our fellow members of the public and the last thing we should think about is privatisation,” Kyprianou said.
He accused the government of using the troika as a pretext and said that caving in paved the way for more blackmail in the future. He called the government to negotiate for alternative solutions.
One of Cyprus’ lenders however, the IMF, has said privatisations are key to returning to growth, transferring resources from the state to the private sector and creating a more efficient state.
The government needs to prepare a roadmap for the privatisation of semi government companies before it can receive the next tranche of bailout funds for Cyprus, which was bailed out in March by the IMF, and the EU.
A number of semi-governmental organisations’ unions have already said they will be protesting, many striking, against privatisations, while a mass union rally has been announced for December 14.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday they were trying to support the vulnerable who have been suffering from a financial crisis brought about “by the mistakes and cowardice of the past”.
Stylianides said that AKEL knew full well that privatisations had been agreed with the troika already.
Stylianides said employees could play a role in their companies’ future by participating as shareholders and playing a role in the way the companies’ are managed.
He accused AKEL of criticising the government on a number of issues without offering any constructive proposals. “We are still waiting from AKEL to submit proposals on how best to exit the financial crisis,” Stylianides said adding that “unfounded criticism” did not benefit the country. “After all, the public knows full well how we got here.”