Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

The questions that go unanswered

How many jobs will Halliburton bring to Cyprus

By Hermes Solomon

There is very little ‘ordinary’ citizens, owed money by the state, can do to secure a seizure order. Deputies from all parties felt the new bill to prevent seizures was not just about protecting state property, but also preventing any of it being seized, which puts citizens with legitimate claims against the state at a disadvantage.

Deputies are now looking at ways of limiting the scope of the bill so that individual rights would also be safeguarded. But why wasn’t this consideration included in the original bill?

Under a new law passed by parliament, the interest rate paid out by the state as compensation for expropriated land has been slashed from 9 to 3 per cent. The auditor-general claims that the state owes some €500m in compensation to property owners whose land was taken over for projects like roads and other public works. But where is the money to pay even the interest to come from?

Property owners who have not been compensated for expropriations have the right to secure court orders to seize state assets. But where is the money to come from for impoverished property owners to take the state to court?

Meanwhile, car owners who haven’t paid their road tax will get a chance to do so at a possible 30 per cent discount, according to a ‘ridiculous’ bill introduced at the House ten days ago. Does anyone think ‘impoverished’ non-payers will ‘take the bait’?

The lack of liquidity and NPLs were among the issues discussed by MPs and the recent delegation from the troika.

According to the chairman of the House finance committee, Nicolas Papadopoulos, the troika said “significant progress has been achieved and measures to help tackle the structural problems of the Cypriot economy have been put in place, hence the improved reviews of the economy.” He did not name those improved reviews or what measures have been put in place exactly.

Cyprus’ borrowing ratings have improved and there was interest from foreign investors to invest said Papadopoulos. He did not name whichforeign investors exactly.

Lenders warned that “2014 will be a difficult year; significant problems remain on a social level and unemployment rates were very high.” Don’t lenders mean 2015? 2014 is half way through.

The common goal should be the return to growth as soon as possible said Papadopoulos. How does Papadopoulos expect growth to accumulate when we don’t have a penny with which to speculate?

DISY MP, Prodromos Prodromou said that public debt was on track and under control but Cyprus had to tackle private debt; Cypriot households are now among the most indebted in the EU with private debt reaching three times GDP. But there is no money anywhere other than that transferred to offshore safe havens by rich ‘patriots’ prior to and during bank lockdown.

“We raised issues concerning the banks, particularly the NPLs and high lending rates, which hinder economic growth,” said Auditor-general, Odysseas Michaelides after meeting troika officials.

“We must strike the right balance in order for the banks to cope with this situation and start lending to SMEs…” What is the right balance when most SMEs owe more to banks than the value of their total assets?

Lenders also met labour ministry technocrats to discuss measures to tackle unemployment. What are these measures exactly?

“The most important thing for the troika and us is to implement measures for youth employment,” said permanent secretary of the labour ministry, Giorgos Ashiotis. Yet again, what measures?

He added that the ministry has a series of measures and schemes planned but it remained to determine how they would be funded. Ah, QED at last – no money!


But not to worry: Halliburton (which offers a broad array of oilfield services and products to upstream oil and gas customers worldwide) is to open an office/warehouse in Larnaca. This colossus of a company is already Middle East based in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman, UAE and the Yemen, four of the nine listed countries experiencing never ending unrest and the other five little more than iron-fisted dictatorships.

Two weeks ago, a nine month unemployed warehouse manager was interviewed by a Halliburton team comprising two Dutchmen and an Italian. He was asked if he’d any experience handling/storing ‘somewhat’ radioactive and highly explosive chemicals and whether he would be prepared to move to the USA or Canada to undergo training.

He responded that the only experience he’d had with high explosives was when on holiday at Governor’s Beach during the Mari disaster of July 2011, and that he would welcome the requisite training in either Canada or the US.

He asked how many jobs were on offer. A team member responded that ‘at this moment in time’ Halliburton was only looking for a warehouse manager to set up shop.

Let’s not pretend that Halliburton, or even Schlumberger should they also come here, will more than make a small dint in our unemployment and growth rate, while oil slicks on our southern shores are sure to become commonplace.

For those of you wishing to learn more about Halliburton, I recommend you visit website and read A Handy Guide to Halliburton for the Vice Presidential Debate. 

Given world press accusations of Halliburton’s ‘misbehaviour’ therein, this autonomous multi-national US Corporation will have ‘its way’ with Cyprus exactly as it has had elsewhere.

So, Mr Minister of Energy and Mr Minister of Finance, tell me, where are the jobs and money to invest in growth to come from? Certainly not from Halliburton, Schlumberger or Kuwait and Qatar, who can see how our rich ‘patriots’ prefer to bank their millions in safe havens rather than re-invest those millions in this potentially energy rich island.

Talk is cheap! Answers to solving the island’s woes are way beyond the scope of our politicians since effective solutions require intellect, discipline, unanimity and the sort of money the state no longer has.

How sad to see where necessity has brought Cyprus, when solutions to all of the republic’s problems, including the Cyprob, will be decided by the troika, IMF, energy corporations and the US.

We are now living in the real world. We must get used to it and stop living in denial of the republic’s fifty four years of utter impotence and profligacy.

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