By Angelos Anastasiou
THE head of the National Economic Council (NEC) Christoforos Pissarides has no intention of resigning and the Council continues its work as normal, a spokesman for the Nobel laureate told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
The spokesman was responding to a report by local daily Simerini that claimed Pissarides plans to tender his resignation to President Nicos Anastasiades in the coming days after having moved back to the United Kingdom, and that the Council is thoroughly displeased at having its work systematically snubbed by the government.
“There is no such issue,” said spokesman Yiorgos Demetriou.
“Professor Pissarides has not moved to the UK, and has no intention of resigning his post as chairman of the National Economic Council.”
The denial was later confirmed by the NEC, which issued a short statement saying Pissarides will not be resigning and will continue to perform the duties of chairman of the NEC, while deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos echoed Demetriou’s “no such issue.”
“[Pissarides’] meetings with the President have been very frequent and his views have been seriously considered,” said Papadopoulos.
Citing an unnamed Council member, Simerini reported that the NEC is disappointed by the fact that its recommendations have been largely ignored by the government.
“We recently submitted a study on restoring economic growth in Cyprus and no one showed an interest in seeing or hearing us,” the story attributed to the source.
Another source of discontent, according to the report, was the fact that during the Troika’s last two visits to the island, no meeting had been arranged with the Council – in contrast to previous Troika visits – which it considered proof of its marginalisation.
“There may be some friction among Council members,” Demetriou subtly confirmed.
“But that means nothing to the function of the NEC, which continues its work regardless of personal perceptions.”
The paper compared the alleged disintegration of the Council – which it painted as being on the verge of disbandment – with Monday’s resignation of the Presidential consultant for aviation Christos Petrou, who claimed he had been hired only to be ignored.
And its unnamed source claimed the NEC has repeatedly clashed with both the Finance minister and the Central Bank governor on “serious issues” – but fell short of revealing them – and reasoned that this could be the reason behind the snubs.
Regardless, according to Demetriou, Professor Pissarides has not “verbally informed the President of his intention to resign” as the paper claimed, nor has he “abandoned Cyprus.”
“Besides, he is heading a research project at the University of Cyprus, so he will be returning as required,” his spokesman said.
The economics professor had caused furor in August amidst the political rows that surrounded public discussions on new, tougher foreclosures legislation.
Asked for his opinion on the necessity for the government-proposed bills, he had compared the risk of not adopting them to “re-living the nightmare of March 2013, when Parliament rejected the Eurogroup’s first decision,” alluding to the ensuing disastrous haircut on uninsured deposits in the island’s two largest banks.