By Stefanos Evripidou
THE Commissioner for Civil Service Reform Emmanuella Moushioutta-Lambrianides resigned unexpectedly yesterday, long before fulfilling her mandate.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides confirmed yesterday that President Nicos Anastasiades accepted her resignation.
The president thanked her for her work in developing a procedure to modernise and reform the public service.
Stylianides said the government will accelerate efforts to achieve the government’s main goal, “a modern, efficient, productive and public-friendly state”, within the specific timeframe set.
The reason for Lambrianides’s resignation was not immediately clear though reports suggested it has to do with ongoing friction within the coalition government and the desire of some within DIKO to pull away.
Lambrianides is the daughter of former DIKO labour minister Andreas Moushiouttas and sister of Marinos Moushiouttas, who earlier this month was elected as general secretary in internal DIKO party elections. He also gained a seat in the party’s executive office which met yesterday to discuss whether the party should leave the government in protest at the president’s handling of the Cyprus problem.
Marinos Moushiouttas is considered an ally of new DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, who is a vocal detractor of Anastasiades on the Cyprus problem.
According to sources at the Presidential Palace, Lambrianides had informed the government of her choice a few days ago. The government had thought she would not announce her decision until a replacement had been found.
What came as a real “shock” to the Palace was the fact that before her meeting with the president had even ended yesterday morning, online news site Sigmalive published an article reporting her resignation.
The former commissioner met Anastasiades at 9.30am, informing him that she wanted to leave for personal reasons.
At 10.15am, an article by Sigmalive went online quoting Lambrianides saying that she submitted her resignation for reasons of conscience.
Lambrianides was appointed by the president following his election last year to prepare an action plan to shake-up the public service, with the help of experts from the World Bank and the United Kingdom, acting as independent external reviewers of the reform process.
Preliminary findings of the World Bank and UK-based experts last October revealed that the state payroll was unsustainable in its current form, and proposed examinations for all hirings and promotions.
The government made it a top priority to modernise the public service so it could provide faster and better services to the private sector, businesses and general public.
Some of the goals set include establishing and implementing an effective employee performance appraisal system, transferability within the service, introducing strategic planning, changing the work schedule and setting criteria to measure the productivity of each section.
Facing fierce opposition to change, Lambrianides highlighted within the first few months of taking her post that the troika of international lenders have included the radical restructuring of the public sector in Cyprus’ adjustment programme.
The former commissioner argued that the reforms would save money in the short-term, though the ultimate goal was to achieve the sustainability of the public sector.
From the outset, however, she came under heavy attack from the powerful civil servants union PASYDY which refused to accept her authority, arguing that as a civil servant she could not have executive powers.
The Anastasiades government did not budge from its positions, though, giving its full support to Lambrianides while taking frequent pot shots from a livid PASYDY.
Anastasiades said the government was determined to see modernisation of the public sector through, with or without the union.
The influential union even turned to the courts to annul the post of reform commissioner and remove Lambrianides from office, a move rejected by the Supreme Court last October. The top court ruled that the position was advisory and not political.
PASYDY boss Glafcos Hadjipetrou said the union would appeal.