Cyprus Mail

The price of leaving office

Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou is said to be unhappy with DIKO's decision

By Elias Hazou

THE FOUR DIKO ministers may soon say bid farewell to their government paycheque, should their party opt tomorrow to leave the ruling coalition.

But whether they get the bonus to which state officials are entitled to, is entirely their call. Ministers are eligible for a one-off pension payout if they have served at least 12 consecutive months.

The four ministers in question – Fotis Fotiou (defence), Giorgos Lakkotrypis (energy and commerce), Kyriacos Kenevezos (education) and Petros Petrides (health) – will have completed the 12 months come March 1. Reports said their bonus, if paid, would come to around €11,000.

However while DIKO’s executive bureau was still in session last Friday to discuss whether the party should leave the coalition, news was leaked of a verbal proposal by Papadopoulos that the four DIKO ministers step down on March 4. Quitting on that date would still allow the four to collect the bonus as by that time they would have already served 12 months in office.

It’s understood that Papadopoulos was seeking to give the ministers a golden parachute, perhaps to numb the pain of leaving office.

The leaking of the proposal sparked outrage on social media websites.

The four DIKO ministers were said to be furious, though it was not clear whether they were upset more with the proposal itself or the fact it went public, making them look like money grabbers if they went along.

While the source of the leak is anyone’s guess, it’s speculated that the party leadership under Papadopoulos may have wanted to turn the screw on the ministers by using the proverbial carrot-and-stick.

None of the four ministers – who do not belong to the Papadopoulos ‘faction’ in DIKO – had wanted to quit their job. Moreover, they each had a vote in the executive bureau.

The Mail was earlier told that at least one of the ministers, Lakkotrypis, would leave office immediately, before the March 4 deadline, thus waiving the bonus.

Fotiou tweeted on Sunday: “Do we want a party of responsibility or a party of protest? DIKO must fulfill its historic role as a party of responsibility.”

And health minister Petros Petrides on Monday dodged a journalist’s question as to whether he’d resign even if the president asked him to stay on regardless.

“Let’s wait for the final result,” he said, alluding to the upcoming DIKO vote at the central committee.

However it’s unlikely that any of the four would defy a final party decision to exit the government.

Ministers are also entitled to a monthly pension (paid on the retirement age of 63) but only if they have completed 18 months in office.

So should DIKO quit the coalition, the four ministers can forget the government salary as well as the pension. They may get to keep the bonus, provided they bow out after March 1, but at the risk of losing face.

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