Cyprus Mail

Top technocrats tipped for ‘big three’ SGOs

The EAC, one of the big three SGOs

By Constantinos Psillides

THREE ministry permanent secretaries will reportedly be appointed heads of CyTA, EAC and Ports Authority in the coming week.

President Nicos Anastasiades is looking at technocrats to lead the three main semi governmental organisations (SGOs), sources inside the palace say.

Specifically, the permanent secretary of the communication and works ministry Alecos Michaelides seems to be slated to take over the state telecoms CyTA and finance ministry permanent secretary Christos Patsalides to be appointed head of the Ports Authority.

Stelios Himonas, permanent secretary of the commerce, industry and energy ministry is the favourite to lead Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC).

If the three are appointed, they will act both as heads of the SGOs and as permanent secretaries.

The final decision on all the SGOs boards would be announced on Monday.

Anastasiades has repeatedly assured the public that this time meritocracy will prevail and only the most capable people would be selected.

Semi-state companies like EAC and CyTA have always been used by parties as vehicles to provide public posts and employment to supporters.

Appointing technocrats, who in general steer away from party politics, is expected to help Anastasiades with plans to privatise the three main SGOs.

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.

Privatising the SGOs has been met with fierce opposition in the parliament, with AKEL, EDEK, the Greens party and even coalition party DIKO opposing them.

DIKO was to decide on the proposed appointments in a meeting yesterday afternoon. Alecos Tryfonides, a high ranking party member and head of one the CyTA unions has been a vocal opponent of the privatisation plans.

Newly elected leader of DIKO Nicolas Papadopoulos made statements in the past opposing the government’s plans but said earlier this month that “some things have changed and we need to face reality”.

Papadopoulos blamed the previous administration, pointing out that privatisations were agreed to be included in the bail-out memorandum by former president Demetris Christofias.

The government stance on SGO privatising is also very unpopular with the workers unions, who have repeatedly warned that if the government goes through with its plans they will go on strike.

Appointing people who are unaffected by public criticism and party politics seems to be the only way Anastasiades can put the privatisations back on track.

Alecos Michaelides was the government representative in charge of negotiations with Hermes Airports regarding the Larnaca and Paphos airports from 2001 to 2007. Michaelides then took over the Public Works Department from 2007 to 2012 and was appointed permanent secretary of the Communications and Works ministry in 2012.

Christos Patsalides held various posts in the finance ministry and was appointed permanent secretary in 2002.

Stelios Himonas held various positions that had to do with telecommunication in the communications and works ministry and was appointed permanent secretary of the justice ministry in 2012. He vacated the office in 2013, when he was appointed permanent secretary to the commerce, industry and energy ministry.

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