Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Musical chairs and the chicken curry express

By Nathan Morley

EARLIER this week there was a real and timely opportunity for our lethargic leaders to be seen as actively chipping-in during this hour of need by giving up their ‘acquired right’ to be provided with super expensive limousines and executive cars.

Sadly though, an amendment bill on culling this disgraceful waste apparently bypassed the national mood and needs ‘further discussion’. It has been postponed until next year.

Isn’t it ironic that the postponement was announced just hours after the finance minister told parliament that public spending increased at a higher rate than that of economic growth?

There is something really absurd and annoying about this whole debate.

Here’s the thing: We have kids going to school hungry, unemployment is spiraling out of control and food banks have become the sole support for thousands of desperate families across the island.

I have an idea – and I’m providing it for free. What about a carpooling solution to help provide immediate economic, environmental and social benefits? Say with say six cars and drivers, all working on a well organised timetable to suit the schedules of our army of busy politicians and high rankers? Just imagine the savings.

What baffles many people is that as the dole queue gets longer, the state continues pumping millions of euros into maintaining this fleet of expensive cars with drivers for the attorney general, the assistant attorney general, the chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem, ministers, ministry undersecretaries, the auditor general, the accountant general, ministry permanent secretaries, supreme court judges, the house permanent secretary and all former Republic and House presidents – it is intolerable lunacy.

It’s time to take a leaf out of Lloyd George’s book. He once said: “The only principle of payment in the public service is that you should make an allowance to a man to enable him to maintain himself comfortably and honourably, but not luxuriously, during the time he is rendering the service to the state.”

It is understandable though that moral outrage on the island is so depleted after the events of the past six months that hardly anyone has raised issue with this situation?

At least the Finance Minister Harris Georgiades, who I know often drives himself around town, told parliament on Thursday that Cyprus needs to be fiscally prudent in coming years. That is at least a start – it is time to slash the expensive trinkets of political power; after all we want what is the best for our country, don’t we?

Meanwhile, as Cyprus continues to slide down the recession- greased slope, the leader of the local intelligentsia appears to have spilled the beans on the root of our problems.

Sir Christopher Pissarides, who is part of the government finance squad, has conceded that he had personally made a mistake by supporting the euro.

“There is no point in just dealing with each problem in an ad hoc way and think we have succeeded because we managed to keep (the euro zone) alive for a few more months and not taking the important decisions needed.”

Delivering his inaugural lecture as the first Regius Professor of Economics at the LSE, Pissarides spoke of a ‘lost generation’ of unemployed youngsters and said the currency needs to be dismantled to ‘restore the trust that Europe’s nations once had in each other’.

Despite the fact he is a part of a government bound to the dictates of Brussels for survival, he has become the latest voice in a growing chorus of heavyweights that openly admit that the collapse of the euro, one way or another, is now probably inevitable.

Whichever way you tart-up the euro zone dilemma, it was always doomed to fail because the divide between the northern and southern countries is just too great.

Two things remain certain – the road to economic recovery will be long and Cyprus and its people will continue bear the scars of the greatest financial slump since 1974. Secondly, there will always be a euro nation in need of bailing out. It’s like playing musical chairs…but who will be next?

CURRY EXPRESS
On a lighter note, I’m very happy to have just received an email from British Airways asking to hear about my experience on a recent flight, as I’ve just returned from Washington and New York via London.

The details of the flight are still fresh in my mind, but I’m not going to harp on about the man sitting next to me disrobing a stink bomb in the form of his smelly feet, which blended with the non-stop lingering farts, BO; and bad booze breath which was tantamount to a full nuclear assault on my senses.

Forgetting about the bodily smells, there is only one fatal flaw with British Airways.

Everyone that has flown the Larnaca – London route will be familiar with compulsory stark raving bonkers chicken bloody curry menu. Now I’m not expecting gourmet meals to come out of a plastic box and I love curry as much as the next man – but my God, 200 people stuffing greasy Korma at 30,000 feet makes the entire plane reek.

There is an amusing story that in an effort to avoid the curry, one enterprising family marched on to the London plane last year with a massive bucket of KFC, along with a tray of Costa Coffee lattes.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the terminal, Cyprus Airways appears to be finally getting its act together by offering bargain basement (curry free) fares to London. The beleaguered airline is offering return tickets for €219, including all taxes and other costs, for flights between January 10 and March 2, 2014. Good Luck.

CANS FOR KIDS
I must send sincere congratulations to the folks at Cans For Kids, which has been nominated from over a thousand submissions for the International Energy Globe Award 2013.

The organisation raises much needed funds for children’s projects from the crushed collected cans it sells to recyclers – over the past 20 years; they have donated over 260,000 euros worth of much needed medical equipment to the paediatric wards at Makarios Hospital.

Every weekend, come rain or shine Cans for Kids volunteers are out crushing and bagging cans. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Rosie and the team will be suitably honoured in Salzburg next year.

Now, it’s time to check if there are any developments on that elusive joint statement!



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