IN THIS period of doom and gloom there is one man who is ecstatically cheerful and happy whenever he appears in public. He is smiling and laughing away, every time we see him on TV, like a man suffering from compulsive euphoria if there was such a disease.
He must be the happiest man in Kyproulla, which is quite an achievement in these bleak times of social despair and economic meltdown. I refer to the long-haired chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, Christis Hassapis who has been on cloud nine ever since becoming a chairman last September.
The guy was even smiling and laughing when announcing that the BoC had posted net losses just shy of €2 billion for the first nine months of 2013. Were such losses a reason to be happy?
How can you be permanently happy as chairman of a struggling bank that in the previous two years posted losses in excess of €4 billion, has NPLs of many billions, cannot stop the outflow of deposits, is unable to restore public confidence and there is a big question mark hanging over its future?
You would have expected a person in charge of such a bank to be an ill-tempered, stressed out, bundle of nerves, suffering from sleepless nights and bad moods. But Hassapis remains the happiest bunny in Kyproulla, giving the impression that his only worry when he gets every day is how he will style his hair.
WHAT is the reason for his permanent state of bliss? Does his doctor prescribe him ultra-potent happy pills or has he read a self-help manual on ‘How to be happy even when you are chairman of a failing bank’?
It could be the long hair, having a similar effect as it had on Samson, during biblical times. According to the Bible, God had given Samson supernatural strength which was lost without his hair. Perhaps Hassapis’ long hair is the reason for his supernatural happiness and the reason he refuses to have it cut. He had had trimmed a while back but it is now in full flow.
As I am not religious I don’t buy any of the above theories. I reckon the modern-day Samson is blissfully happy all the time because he became someone important, an instantly recognisable Kyproulla celebrity. He had lived all his adult life in obscurity, as just another associate professor at the Cyprus University that nobody had heard of or wanted to know and then, overnight, he got lucky and became a superstar.
As chairman of the country’s biggest and best-known company, he joined our society’s crème de la crème that bestowed on him the social status and glamour he craved. He is now followed by the TV cameras, mobbed by hacks, served with countless interview requests and receives invitations to all the important events on the social calendar at which the great and the good treat him as one of them.
Some men would kill for the power and social status Hassapis now has and he achieved it without doing anything. With such good fortune it would have been hubris not to be permanently happy.
THE HAPPY Hassapis was in his element last Monday when he met finance minister Harris Georgiades to discuss how the BoC was doing ahead of the troika visit. After the meeting he was on a high, not because the BoC had returned to normalcy, but because the cameras were waiting for him and Harris to make a statement about their meeting. He waltzed around the room in which the cameras were set up to film the minister’s statement, joking with hacks and enjoying the attention. For the statement, the beaming Hassapis stood next to Harris doing what he always does – smiling and feeling pleased with himself because he is somebody.
THE SAME good fortune was visited on another mediocre academic, but he remained a miserable old sod. Professor Panicos had more reasons to be in a state of permanent happiness than Hassapis. Our incompetent commie rulers rescued him from a life-long sentence to academic obscurity in Leicester, bestowing on him social status and power plus a big fat salary and a place on the ECB Council. He flies business class everywhere and stays at the top hotels, at the taxpayer’s expense, something he could only dream of if he was still at Leicester. And to show his gratitude to the country that gave him so much, as Governor he has put all his efforts into destroying its banking sector.
CENTRAL Bank staff were wondering where the triumvirate that rules it had disappeared to in the last couple of days. The professor, Cruella and GG had not gone into work on Thursday and Friday prompting questions about their whereabouts. Had they gone abroad or were they holed up in some secret retreat discussing what they would do in the event that the Attorney-General decided to press charges against Panicos? Nobody knows.
In his absence, his semi-official mouthpiece, Stockwatch website, ran a story claiming that ‘legal circles’ insisted that the Governor could not be sacked or suspended. These legal circles consisted of one lawyer – Andreas Angelides, who claimed that the Governor would be able to carry on performing his duties even if criminal charges were brought against him. According to the legal circles’ logic, if a Governor was charged with murder he would still remain at his post until the court decided whether he was guilty or not? I have no legal expertise but this seems too crazy even for our messed up justice system which allows convicted criminals to file libel suits.
THE HEAD of the Phil group Nik Pattichis threw a big lunch-time bash at the Hilton Park Hotel on Thursday for advertising agencies and representatives of companies with big advertising budgets to promote his new baby, Mega TV.
Patt has decided that his plans for total domination of the media could not be realised without having a TV station under his control and struck a deal with the Archbishop, to take over the running of Mega which was losing big amounts of money. Phil has benefited financially from close co-operation with the priests ever since its establishment so it was nice of Patt to try to give something back the Church now that it has run out of money.
Archbishop Chrys also spoke at the presentation, saying that the only reason he kept Mega going was because it was a patriotic duty. He said he could put his message across through the churches – a great propaganda platform – but not everyone went to church so a television station was also needed to boost nationalist feelings.
Once he was done with his patriotic sermon, the holy man engaged in some marketing talk, urging his guests to advertise on Mega. By the way, the happiest, long-haired, bank chairman of Kyproulla was also present at the bash, laughing and smiling at everyone, as a show of support to his close buddy Patt.
THE NOT SO happy CEO of the B of C John Hourican sent out a memo last week instructing staff not to leak bank information to the media, threatening with dismissal anyone who was caught doing so. Interestingly almost all the leaked information relating to what is going on at the bank is published by Phil whose big boss and the smiling chairman of the B of C are bosom buddies. Of course this does not mean that the happy chairman is the source of the leaks, even though he must qualify as a prime suspect.
STAYING on banking issues, there is a big dispute over the renewal of the collective agreements between banks and the bank employees union ETYK, the boss of which, Loizos Hadjicostis is back to his bullying tactics.
One point of dispute was the interest rate bank employees were paying on housing loans. Until now it has been a ludicrous 0.5 per cent and the banks argued that it should be increased to 2.5 per cent. Why were the banks’ customers and shareholders, subsidising the loans of employees who were among the best-paid in the country, was the obvious question.
Hadjicostis would not hear of it, so the dispute was referred to the mediation service of the labour ministry which nine times out of 10 sides with the unions. The impartial mediating officer was Costas Mavrides, a DIKO bash-patriot, who regularly writes newspaper articles slamming the banks. And of course he ruled in favour of the union and the right of bank employees to have their loans subsidised by the rest of us who pay seven and eight per cent interest on the loans.
Akelites will be happy to note that the dictatorship of the proletariat is alive and well in our Kyproulla.
OUR POOR ambassadors abroad have been reduced to doing all the work themselves in order to entertain. The other half of an ambassador in an important city was quite shocked recently when she invited eight guests for dinner at the embassy and was told by the foreign ministry that there was no money for a chef. She would have to cook as it would have been embarrassing to un-invite the guests. Then she was told that there was no money for a waiter either so she ended up running back and forth to kitchen to do the serving as well. It’s a hard life serving as an ambassador of bankrupt country.
WE COULD close down a few embassies to free some funds so that the ambassadors that remained could hire a waitress. Denmark has announced that it would close its embassy in Nicosia, but this is not because of financial considerations because at the same time it announced the opening of embassies in The Philippines, Colombia and Burma.
I think the Danish foreign ministry’s decision was a big mistake. How could it close down its embassy in a country with an ‘important geo-political position’ that is soon to become a regional energy centre? Have the Danes not heard of our newly found geo-political importance?
YOU HAVE to laugh at the way we waste our money on foreign consultants. Did we really need to bring in British consultants to tell us that 30 municipalities are too many and to advise us to reduce them to just five? Perhaps we are crediting our politicians with too much intelligence. Three years ago, we had 24 municipalities, which were still too many, but they decided to create another six ahead of the 2011 municipal elections, because there were not enough mayoral posts and councillors’ seats to satisfy all the nobodies of the political parties that wanted a political role.