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Our View: It’s no use exposing scandals unless something is done about them

The new auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides

WE USED to think that Chrystalla Georghadi was very proactive when she held the post of auditor-general until mid-April this year.

Every year she would produce her report filled with the shameful goings on within the public service and highlight the waste of taxpayers’ money in almost every ministry and semi-government organisation. She would also appear at House committees a few times a year presenting some new scandal or shortcoming in the system.

But having seen the pace at which her successor Odysseas Michaelides is going at it since his appointment, it’s becoming almost difficult to keep up.

In the past month or so he has brought to light the fact that the cases of 15 community leaders suspected of criminal behavior – mainly embezzlement – have not yet reached the courts, and he wants to know why.

He then asked the finance ministry to look into possible disciplinary or criminal offences that may have been committed by board members of the Cyprus Cultural Foundation, including misappropriation of government funds.

Shortly after that he suggested football clubs should pay the cost of policing matches given that almost a million euros is spent each year in policing games.

Earlier this month, Michaelides was invited to a cabinet meeting in a show of support from President Nicos Anastasiades who – vowing zero tolerance – gave the auditor-general his backing to expose every financial scandal he came across.

Michaelides has been even more unstoppable since, appearing before the House watchdog committee where he spoke about dubious dealings at hospitals that the health ministry and hospitals had covered up, including doctors abusing the overtime system.

Last week it was the fact that court stenographers were costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands a year while suggesting something dodgy was afoot with the tenders process.

Then he took on CyTA, saying the new board was covering up the sins of the old members, and yesterday he recommended opening an investigation into claims that former health minister Petros Petrides had approved a request for taxpayers to foot the bill for an operation he had performed as a private doctor just before taking office in March last year.

While Michaelides is to be commended for his zeal, at this pace, we will be suffering from scandal fatigue by the end of the year, having been used to all our scandals coming at once.

On a more serious note, we’ve heard nothing since about the 15 crooked community leaders going to court, the football clubs paying more to police matches, or any doctors being disciplined or fired for abusing the system. So unless the president’s zero-tolerance for financial scandals extends to bringing the perpetrator to justice, Michaelides’ hard work will be for nothing.

No one in Cyprus is surprised any more by just hearing about scandals. What would be a surprise would be to see someone go to jail.

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