By Elias Hazou
A BILL slashing the number of state officials entitled to unlimited use of limos is to be put to the plenum this week.
The legislative proposal aims to limit the ‘exclusive’ (jargon for unlimited, round-the-clock) use of limos to certain officials: the President, the House Speaker, former Presidents and House Speakers, the Supreme Court chief justice, the Attorney-general, the deputy Attorney-general, and the auditor-general.
It’s understood the item has the backing of DISY and DIKO and will likely pass.
On paper, the proposal is an improvement on an earlier one, tabled in December but on which MPs decided to postpone the vote.
The previous amendment had allowed unlimited use of limos to the chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem, ministers, ministry undersecretaries – if they are appointed – the accountant-general, ministry permanent secretaries, supreme court judges and the House permanent secretary.
This group of officials, as well as the bosses at semi-governmental organisations and mayors, are now ineligible for unlimited use.
But the accompanying regulations spelling out restrictions on the use of limos are to be introduced by the government by June 2014.
Essentially very little changes until the summer when the finance ministry is due to bring the regulations to parliament.
The current legislative proposal is thus a template, or the first component, for the new system to be introduced.
Come July, and thereafter, state officials (such as ministers and permanent secretaries), SGO bosses and mayors will still be entitled to limos, but for limited, official use only.
For instance, an SGO boss would not be allowed to use the limo to drive to work but only to be driven to official functions.
According to DISY MP Prodromos Prodromou, the restrictions should also curb the number of ‘service vehicles’ assigned to SGOs and municipalities.
At the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, for instance, there are currently around nine limos; these, it is hoped, will be reduced to a couple.
In a bid to cut the cost to the taxpayer, the regulations will also limit the cars’ engine size to 2,000cc – apart for the limo that drives around the President of the Republic. Additionally, they will spell out the maximum carbon dioxide emissions for the vehicles.
Though it remains to be seen what regulations the government will thrash out, at least the more egregious practices are likely to be rooted out.