HAVING solved all the country’s problems – regaining access to international markets, reducing the budget deficit, offering citizens a guaranteed minimum income, opening Limassol marina – our government decided to turn its attention to secondary issues such as air travel for its members.
In fact the government has been trying to tackle this issue for some time now having realised that its decision, forcing everyone except the president to travel economy class, was not such a brilliant idea. It was the sort of self-sacrifice members of Nik’s government felt duty-bound to make after the Eurogroup meeting and the bail-in.
But now that everything has returned to normality, ministers have decided that this self-sacrifice, aimed at showing their impoverished countrymen that members of the government were suffering with them, is no longer considered necessary. After all the state can afford to pay for business class tickets now that it can borrow from the markets again.
There was however one little snag. Cattle-class travel for ministers and state officials was a condition of the memorandum (the self-sacrifice was not voluntary after all, but imposed by the Troika) so the government had to think of a way round this and it did.
As the memorandum allowed officials to travel business class on transatlantic trips, the government invented a new definition for ‘transatlantic trip’ last month. It was any trip that took longer than five hours, including the time waiting at an airport for a connecting flight. Flying to Brussels with a stopover was christened a transatlantic trip.
FOREIGN minister Ioannis Kasoulides who gets through a hell of a lot of air-miles came up with the transatlantic idea as travelling with the plebs was stressing him out.
He had a particularly traumatic experience, he told the House committee, flying back from Alicante, via London. Flight-time, excluding the stopover, was eight hours, during which Kasoulides had to endure the racket made by British tourists and their kids.
“What was the logic of classing a seven-hour trip transatlantic but not an eight-hour trip,” he asked deputies. This was a very logical point, but did not explain why the accountant-general’s office agreed to class a five-hour trip, including stopovers, transatlantic as well.
The foreign minister, who spends a lot of hours on a plane each month, has our establishment’s full sympathy, but he has the Tof government to thank for the air travel ordeals he is suffering. A couple of months before leaving office, the Tof government decided to ban business class travel for all state officials, except the great leader, and the troika incorporated the measure in the memorandum.
This perfectly illustrated the insane economic management pursued by Tof. He bankrupted the state by squandering hundreds of millions in state handouts and a couple of months before leaving office he decided to save a million by banning business class travel.
STAYING of the subject of air travel, Prez Nik did not win much sympathy after announcing that a mega-wealthy, London-based Cypriot businessman by the name of Chris Lazari had offered to pay for him to use a private jet.
It remains unclear whether Lazari would have made his own private jet available, whenever Nik had to fly somewhere or simply picked up the bill whenever our prez needed to hire a private jet. There have been conflicting reports on what would actually happen, but this did not restrict the public moralising by opposition politicians.
Nik tried to defend his acceptance of this generous offer, arguing that Lazari had no business interests in Kyproulla and cunningly asked if deputies would have preferred him to hire a private jet, as comrade Tof had done, and burden the taxpayer. The commie was publicly pilloried when it was revealed that he was using a private jet for his travels, most of the criticism coming from Nik’s party.
Poor old Tof, a modest village-boy, had no fabulously rich friend to pay for his private jet and was forced to send the bill to the taxpayer. What nobody acknowledges was that his use of a private jet helped upgrade the importance of the Cyprus Republic, which is the main reason Nik wants to travel private class as well.
THE LAZARI formula could offer a solution to the air travel woes of all our politicians. When the government tried to re-introduce business class travel for pseudo-transatlantic flights it extended this privilege only to a dozen or so state officials, leaving the rest of our political crème de la crème, like party leaders and deputies to travel prole-class, but now there is an alternative.
Each party leader could approach a wealthy businessman and ask him to sponsor his travels like the prez had done. It would be nothing for a wealthy businessman to pick up the bill for upgrading the party leader’s booking from economy to business class.
In this way, the party leader would avoid being seated next to smelly plebs, the taxpayer would not be burdened with the cost of business seats and the businessman, who would have to be Cypriot, will feel that he is performing a patriotic duty, just like Lazari.
There will be one condition for the sponsorship – the businessman will have to have business interests in Kyproulla so the party leader or deputy would be able to return the favour.
ALL THIS bickering about private jets would have been avoided if the late Ethnarch Tassos’ close associates were not so greedy. The Ethnarch, fed up of using connecting flights to get to places asked two of his aides to find out what it would cost to buy a private jet.
They contacted the Syrian businessman and arms-dealer Fouad al-Zayad, currently wanted in Greece in connection with the former defence minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos’ bribery case, to get prices. However one of the aides, subsequently approached al-Zayad telling him that he would receive the commission for the purchase as it was his deal.
The Syrian informed the senior aide about this conversation and the latter reported his corrupt colleague to the Ethnarch. Tassos was so angry to hear this that he decided he did not want a private jet and the idea was abandoned, forcing Tof to lease a private jet and Nik to rely on the generosity of patriotic billionaires.
OUR ESTABLISHMENT fully supports the DISY plan to raise the minimum share of the vote required to gain entry to the legislature. It is currently at 1.8 per cent of the vote and DISY wants to raise it to five per cent.
This would be a good thing as it is sure to eliminate the Perdikis one-man show, masquerading as Green party, from parliament. I hear that this is also the motivation of DISY, whose deputies have come to detest the pompous, pontificating, populist Perdikis. The turtle-lover is disliked across the ideological spectrum, which could help DISY pass its proposal.
Deputies, apparently, hate the way self-righteous bash-patriot regularly leaks information to the media, regarding confidential House committee work or unfinished bills, in exchange for public exposure (nobody makes as many appearances on TV and radio or is quoted so often by the papers) and hagiographic reports about him.
We would like to wish every success to DISY which would be doing us all a big favour if it spares us the torture of hearing Perdikis advertising his moral superiority whenever we turn on the radio or TV. And if the raising of the threshold also eliminates the Lillikas alliance from parliament, Kyproulla would be a happier place.
THE GOVERNMENT seemed very pleased with its new welfare bill, which was presented to hacks by our blonde labour minister Zeta Emilianidou. The bill is commendable as it would provide a minimum guaranteed income (MGI) of €480 per month to individuals without work, plus add-ons for dependents and state contributions for rent and municipal taxes.
What Zeta avoided mentioning and nobody bothered to ask was where all the money to fund the welfare payments would come from, as there could be as many as 70,000 people eligible. All she said was that the state would need an additional €50 million a year for its scheme, an amount that had already been found.
She did not spell out that annual welfare expenditure, which reached one billion euro during the enlightened rule of the generous and kindly comrade, would remain the same apart from the extra 50 million, but would be re-distributed. By Friday there were complaints that some minor disabilities would not be eligible for welfare payment and we are sure to hear a lot more complaints from other recipients deemed ineligible by the new bill.
For instance people with refugee IDs will no longer be entitled to a €60,000 handout to build a house; they were not even means-tested during the generous Tof years.
AKELITE deputies, meanwhile, have already started complaining that €480 was nowhere near enough for people without a job because, even with the add-ons for spouse and children, the MGI would be less than the minimum wage. The commies have always been very generous with the taxpayer’s money and for the sake of social equality and justice want to make unemployment as financially attractive as having a job.
PERDIKIS, soul-mate, self-righteous and morally superior MEP Eleni Theocharous does not enjoy the standing she claims she does at the European parliament, where, according to her accounts, she was giving many big fights for the good of Kyproulla.
The unsmiling Eleni was one of 15 candidates for the 10 vice president posts in the European People’s Party but, despite her high standing within the party failed to get elected. She received 40 votes, one more than the MEP who came last.
Our most popular deputy – she received the most votes in last May’s elections – could not even finish 10th out of 15 in the EPP elections. This must mean something but I do not know what.
MERITOCRACY is alive and well in the police force. Giorgos Tryfonides, the senior cop, whose six-year stint as director of the Nicosia Central Prisons was a catalogue of disasters, ineptitude and prisoner suicides has been well rewarded for his abject professional failure.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, who had some run-ins with Tryfonides, appointed him Director of the Police Academy.
Tryfonides will be able to teach police cadets how to become incompetent and inept officers, because proven incompetence is the only guarantee of a distinguished career in the force.
I AVOIDED mentioning the World Cup this week after the complaints I received for last week’s shop, but I want to register my displeasure about the CyBC commentating, which often puts you to sleep. There are one or two commentators who do a good job, but when you get Poyadjis you feel like throwing bricks at the television. And Getspayia, as the ‘guest expert’, makes you contemplate suicide.
You could turn down the volume and try to listen to commentary on the radio or the computer but the there is a synchronization problem – the sound is about 20 seconds ahead of the picture.
Our Coffeeshop expert, after hours of research and testing, advises: “If the commentary is running ahead of the television pictures, move the loudspeakers further away so that the sound takes longer to reach you.”
WE HAVE run out of space and cannot write anything about the re-kindling of the DIKO-AKEL romance. We will look into the matter next week because affairs of the heart need to be properly explained and analysed.