By Stefanos Evripidou
THE government has plans to change the entire system of calculating wage increases in the wider public sector so that after 2016, increases are closely tied to the economy’s real performance, Finance minister Harris Georgiades said yesterday.
Speaking during a visit to the University of Cyprus (UCY), Georgiades said the government has no intention of returning to the previous system of automatic general increases, incremental increases and Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA) adjustments.
The minister said the government was already working on a new system for wage increases that would take effect once Cyprus completes the troika’s adjustment programme.
“If after 2016 we go back exactly to where we were before, in other words, the system of general increases, incremental increases, CoLA, combined scales, then public finances would again go off the rails within no time,” said the minister.
“Already, we are working on a way in which wages, and mainly wage increases will be assigned in a manner that adheres much more closely to the real performance of the economy,” he added.
Georgiades hailed the university’s effectiveness in securing funding from external programmes, and not depending solely on the state.
Out of 550 universities of the 13 new EU member states, UCY ranks fourth in terms of attracting European funding.
The minister said the effort underway was not to return the Cypriot economy to where it was four years ago, but to create a new, better economic and development model without the imbalances and excesses of the past, based much more on research, innovation and investment in education.
UCY rector Constantinos Christophides called on the government to amend existing law so the university could establish its own high-tech companies, noting that Cyprus was the only country prohibiting this.
During a discussion on lifting the freeze on hiring so that vacant positions could be filled, one participant likened the impact of the freeze to the Brazilian football team being deprived of their star player Neymar.
Georgiades said he preferred the example of Germany which did not have stars, but worked well as a team.