In the end, deputies chose to leave the decision on who would be eligible for a state limo to the government, because they found themselves in difficult position. ‘Difficult’ because they are all populists that, on the one hand, do not want to alienate state officials and, on the other, do not want to be accused by people of sitting on the fence after making such a big fuss about the state limos. It was, after all, deputies that first raised the issue and made public declarations about reducing the number of official that were entitled to this perk.
However, the parties and deputies came under so much pressure from different officials who did not want to give up this privilege that they decided to pass it on to the finance minister. The House finance committee agreed to submit a bill to the plenum on Thursday listing the state officials eligible to a state car, round the clock, but left the drafting of the regulations – which other officials would have the use of a car, whether it would be on a 24-hour basis and whether weekends and public holidays would be included – to the finance minister. They could engage in their populist games again, when the finance minister submits the regulations to the legislature for approval.
According to the bill, a round-the-clock state limo would be provided to the president of the Republic, president of the House, president of the Supreme Court, Attorney-General, deputy Attorney-General, Auditor-General, two former presidents of the Republic and three former presidents of the House. The finance minister would then decide how many more officials would have a state limo and frequency of use.
There is one rational consistency in the draft law. Why should former presidents have a round- the-clock limo service provided by the taxpayer, when they are not serving the country? They receive a very generous state pension and retirement bonus, not to mention the scam of the €3,000 per month for secretarial services, and can afford to pay for a car. As for former presidents of House, it is a scandal for the taxpayer to provide them with a state limo and they should have never been included in the new law.
But would DIKO agree to a law depriving Marios Garoyian of a state limo for the rest of his life? Likewise, EDEK would never support such a bill because Dr Lyssarides would lose his state limo and Yiannakis Omirou would have to drive his own car when he ceases to be House president. Ridiculously, the laws in Cyprus are personalised. The bill stipulates the deputy Attorney-General should have a state limo, but not the deputy Auditor-General and not the Accountant-General. This is because the deputy AG Rikkos Erotokritou, lives in Limassol and wants to be driven home every day. The rational thing would be for him to rent a flat in Nicosia, rather than expect the taxpayer, by law, to pay for his car and transport costs.
But there is no objectivity in law-making in Cyprus that is why the state limos issue has degenerated into a farce, which is not over yet because the regulations have yet to be prepared.