Cyprus Mail

State must keep control of its assets says DIKO

By George Psyllides

The state must maintain control of its assets, DIKO said on Tuesday, as it called on the government not to insist on selling state telecoms company CyTA.

“The Democratic Party calls on the government and (ruling) DISY to recognise the need to maintain the public character of CyTA and not insist on its sell off,” the party said in a written statement.

The aim, DIKO said, should be to serve the interests of society, the economy and the state, and not “vindication of the ideological obsessions of any side.”

Communist AKEL, which also opposes privatisations, has urged for a united front of opposition parties against the “neoliberal irrationality” of the government.

DIKO described this as cheap populism and took a shot at AKEL over its stance on the Cyprus problem.

“It would have been good for AKEL to ask for a united front against the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus in the framework of any agreement on the Cyprus problem,” the party said. “Because without the Republic of Cyprus, there would not be any semi-state organisations, among other things.”

AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loukaides questioned how the economy would benefit from the privatisation of profitable SGOs.

The party also appeared certain that a telecoms cartel would be formed and wondered how the government planned to protect consumers.

“Perhaps the same way they tackle the fuel importing company cartel?” Loukaides said.

He said the state also stood to lose the millions that SGOs paid to the state as dividend and wondered if new taxes would be introduced to cover the loss.

AKEL was certain that the investors would also engage in tax evasion and tax avoidance and they would take all the profits out of Cyprus or they would be kept in bank accounts instead of being injected into the real economy.

“The SGO workers’ rights, the interests of consumers, taxpayers, the economy of semi-occupied Cyprus, are better ensured by maintaining the public character of the organisations, and by their further modernisation,” the party said.

DISY responded that AKEL was to blame since it was responsible for the collapse of the economy and seeking financial assistance from international lenders.

Party official Charalambos Stavrides said that done properly, privatisations can bring in millions in foreign investment and upgrade the services on offer.

He said it was misleading to say that the state would lose assets that fetch it significant annual revenues.

CyTA has recorded a steady reduction in profits in recent years, Stavrides said, and a strategic investor would ensure the organisation’s viability.

No one can secure the workers’ rights in the future, if CyTA remained a state-owned entity and politically motivated wrong decisions continued, he added. SGO boards are appointed by the government.

“We have experienced this in recent decades, irrespective of who was in power.”

On Monday, President Nicos Anastasiades and CyTA unions agreed that bills providing for staff rights and entitlements must be finalised and forwarded to parliament by December.

The unions had expressed serious misgivings about a government bill linked to CyTA’s privatisation that was due to be approved by the cabinet last week, and asked to meet with Anastasiades to air their reservations.

Unions expressed their satisfaction after the meeting, but reiterated their disagreement with denationalising the company and announced a new round of deliberations with parliamentary parties.

Cabinet approval of the bill – but not ratification by the House – was agreed as a “prior action” between the government and international creditors, so Anastasiades was left with little wiggle-room in terms of the concessions he could make to the disgruntled unionists.

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