Cyprus Mail

House fast-tracks law to bend the rules on SGOs

By Elias Hazou

BY VIRTUALLY universal consensus, politicians have loosened the rules on who can be appointed and serve on the boards of semi-governmental organisations.

Under a law passed yesterday, persons sitting on the board of an SGO are now allowed, in their private capacity, to offer services, work or products to an SGO other than the one that he or she has been appointed to.

Also, the professional relationship is permissible on condition that the services or products offered are not ‘germane’ to the activities of the SGO to which they were appointed.

The amendment to the basic law was fast-tracked through the parliamentary process; the legislative proposal – sponsored by DISY, AKEL, DIKO and EDEK – was drafted and approved at committee level and tabled to the plenum all in the space of 24 hours.

The bill passed with 50 votes for and just two against.

Previously, the law stipulated that members of SGOs boards could not enter into or maintain any professional relations with any public-law entity, with no exceptions.

But following the much-talked about appointments of SGO boards in late December, it turned out that a number of these persons had business with public-law entities – a circumstance incompatible with their new office.

By law, these persons would need to resign or else terminate their professional transactions with any SGOs.

It’s understood that a number of the new SGO board members – with ties to political parties – had threatened to quit.

And apparently others had been genuinely unaware of this incompatibility clause in the law.

Perhaps keen to avoid opening a whole new can of worms, legislators thus proceeded to insert a loophole with yesterday’s bill.

The Mail is told that even AKEL, who up until Wednesday afternoon was outright opposed to bending the rules, had by Thursday changed their mind and co-sponsored the bill.

“Maybe, after doing some digging around, AKEL too realised it has people on SGOs who would have been forced to quit unless the law was changed,” a source said.

The Greens’ George Perdikis and Nikos Koutsou of the Citizens’ Alliance were the sole dissenting MPs at the plenum.

“May I remind my colleagues that the European Union has described ‘rusfeti’ (political patronage) as Cyprus’ national sport,” Koutsou said in his remarks.

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