By George Psyllides
President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday met coalition partners to try and tackle the thorny issue of appointments to the new boards of the semi-government organisations (SGOs), which he has pledged to shake up by ending the nepotism.
The government says the appointments should no longer be influenced by political parties as has been the standard practice up until now, often with the results that SGOs were being run by unqualified people.
Anastasiades said he convened the meeting with coalition partners in a bid to “tackle what in the past was a disadvantage; to avoid, as much as possible, party influence in semi-state organisations.”
He added that from now on, only the most capable would be selected.
Semi-state companies like the electricity authority (EAC) and state telecoms CyTA have always been used by parties as vehicles to provide public posts and employment to supporters.
In the past, administrations shared out the seats on their boards having the party affiliation as the only criterion.
Anastasiades had pledged to change this though it will not be easy to allay the public perception of ‘jobs for the boys’, a system that has always been in place.
Also with the privatisation of the semi-state bodies on the way, an additional challenge will be to appoint people capable of handling the major changes that are afoot, and not just the day-to-day running of the SGOs.
Ruling DISY said it would not submit a list of names.
“This task will be carried out by the cabinet together with the president,” spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said, adding that the aim was to seek and find people who were capable.
Government partners DIKO said it would recommend people but it “will be based solely on qualifications, their status, and ability and willingness to work hard.”
Party spokeswoman Christina Erotocritou said the secretariat will convene today to be briefed by leader Nicolas Papadopoulos about discussions with the president.
The administration has said that its effort would be to achieve wide representation on the boards. Reports suggested that people affiliated with the opposition would also be approached.
Main opposition AKEL said it would not put any names on the table but did not reject the idea of having people from outside the coalition on the boards.
MP Giorgos Georgiou said people fulfilling the criteria could be found outside the coalition, leftists and socialists, and possibly people who did not belong to any party.
The new boards, expected to be in place on Monday, will be called on to handle the privatisation of the state entities, the main ones being CyTA, EAC, and the Ports Authority.
Privatisations are part of terms in the island’s bailout agreement. Cyprus must raise €1.4 billion through privatisations between 2016 and 2018.
Earlier this month, the cabinet approved the roadmap for the privatisations, with the first organisation slated for privatisation being CyTA.