By Poly Pantelides
AFTER half a year’s discussion, lawmakers have not yet agreed on what is appropriate for people to pay for their most senior civil servants’ private transportation, although they yesterday said they were “close”.
Deputy Head of the House Finance Committee, Angelos Votsis said they were trying to all agree on a final proposal to limit the number of officials entitled to a car by the state. But they have not yet agreed on how many of 51 state officials would be entitled to a car, and how many of those who would be getting a car would also be getting a driver, although MPs have agreed to avoid huge gas guzzlers. MPs yesterday told the press they wanted a fair deal but needed to iron out some details before reaching consensus.
It started in late May, a few months after former President Demetris Christofias handed over the helm amid resentment over his handling of the economy. There was €43,000 earmarked for a new car for Christofias, who as a former head of state was entitled to his own limo. The Green Party announced it was protesting outside of parliament and submitting a draft bill to amend the 1988 law which they said was an“economic and political scandal”.
The House Finance Committee then started discussing amending the legislation. The head of the finance committee, Nicolas Papadopoulos, said they could not just discuss the luxury of one former president. There were in fact some six former presidents of parliament and the republic who received a car, the finance ministry told lawmakers. And some 51 state officials were provided with a car, a dedicated driver, and all expenses covered including fuel and maintenance.
In general across independent officials, heads of services and semi government bodies, there are at least 117 people who enjoy luxury cars.
MPs said in early July they were putting a proposal to slash privileges to the plenum. But a few days later Christofias said he would be passing on the offer anyway, and deputies decided to carry on looking at the nitty-gritty. Yesterday deputies said they were wrapping up discussions and putting the matter to the plenum this Thursday.