Cyprus Mail

Unanswered phone calls reveal public service apathy

By Constantinos Psillides
THE appalling disregard civil servants have for the public was highlighted yesterday at the House Watchdog Committee as deputies heard that around 187,000 missed calls were clocked in the space of one month.
Given that the public service works on average 20 days a month that means over 9,000 calls a day from the public go unheeded, and the report only covered nine of the island’s 11 ministries and even excluded the busy welfare offices in all main towns.
Almost half of the total missed calls – around 90,000 – were to the immigration department while 10,000 ignored calls were made to the social insurance office in Limassol and 27,000 to the Registrar of Companies office.
The report was part of a pilot monitoring programme installed by the government to measure employee productivity in the public sector. The results were also leaked to Politis at the weekend prior to being presented to MPs yesterday.
House Watchdog Committee chairman, EDEK deputy Phidias Sarikas told reporters yesterday the problem existed across the board, from the land registry to immigration, all of which affected the quality of life of the public.
“As MPs we have the obligation of ensuring that institutions work properly and efficiently in service of the common good,” he said.
DISY deputy Andreas Kyprianou blamed the “labyrinthine procedures” within the public service, adding that bureaucracy needed to be dealt with.
“The interior ministry has shown us today that they are deeply concerned and are taking this matter seriously into consideration. They are trying to come up with ways to simplify the procedures so as citizens don’t have to call all the time to get something done,” he said.
Asked about the nature of most calls, the DISY MP said they mainly had to do with benefits, power being cut, and bank related issues.
Main opposition AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou said the public sector mentality needed to be changed to become more effective.
“If the way of thinking isn’t changed, if the public sector doesn’t improve on the way it handles the public citizens then I’m afraid that any study ordered will just remain a study. Citizens are not the enemy of the public sector,” he said.

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