Cyprus Mail

Palace defends SGO appointments

By Angelos Anastasiou

THE PRESIDENTIAL palace yesterday fended off any criticisms related to its appointments to the semi-government organizations SGOs.

Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos rejected opposition AKEL’s charge of deviating from a meritocratic selection process saying the current administration had finally “eliminated the possibility of nepotism within these organisations, once and for all.”

“The appointments were strictly in line with the president’s commitment; that is, the basis was the high academic and professional qualifications of appointees,” Papadopoulos said.

“The government has submitted a bill to parliament stripping all SGO boards of their hiring and promotion functions, and passing them to the Public Service Commission. This arrangement has eliminated all possibility of nepotism in the future.”

The deputy spokesman also said the new appointments comprised mostly people under the age of 50, and mainly those who did not have strong party affiliations. The participation of women had also been strengthened, he said. Some 25 women were appointed to SGO boards in total, including three to the top position.

Asked to comment on AKEL’s reservations against the appointment of Giorgos Tsalakos as head of the CyBC, Papadopoulos said he was surprised at the questioning of such a distinguished and long-serving journalist’s integrity and expressed the government’s certainty that Tsalaklos’ current professional status at Alithia newspaper would not interfere in the slightest with his duties at the CyBC.

He added that an experienced professional like Tsalakos could “understand the CyBC’s needs and successfully oversee and implement its modernisation efforts.”

AKEL’s spokesman Giorgos Loukaides was yesterday critical of several aspects of the decision-making process, and particularly to the choice for the CyBC questioning how Tsalakos could simultaneously serve at the public broadcaster and a private competitor, which was owned by Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos, and especially when that competitor “treated the opposition party in a hostile manner under his guidance”.

Loukaides also claimed there had been appointments to the SGO boards that he asserted were made not solely on the basis of merit but that of personal connections and “political friendships”, as well as the appointment of retirees despite prior assurances of the contrary.

“On the government’s own admission, the appointees will implement government policy like privatisations and the selling-off of profit-making SGOs,” Loukaides said.

“We will judge them based on their performance, their work and their presence as a whole.”

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