By Loucas Charalambous
I HAVE written many times about the scandalous goings-on at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation. To be precise, its course all these years, from the establishment of the Republic until today, has been an ongoing, self-contained scandal. It is a course that has been a microcosm of the general course of this country for which we can only be ashamed of.
The story reported by a private television station, at the start of the week, starring a senior employee of the corporation and her daughter who was dubiously paid €80,000, according to a complaint made to police, was nothing more than a small indication of the sleaze that has marked the operation of the CyBC these 55 years. When compared to all the incredible things that have taken place at the corporation, this may be a minor case.
That the unions and some of the older members of the management are now protesting and demanding an investigation of this case, while for years they turned a blind eye to the endless feasting of the corporation employees at the taxpayer’s expense, shows the extent of the problem.
From a financial point of view, the CyBC had always been – and continues to be to this day – our most voracious public minotaur; more voracious than Cyprus Airways, which with the help of God, has closed down. Two years ago I had estimated that the money, given as ‘assistance’ by the state to the corporation, in a period of seven years (from 2005 to 2011), with interest was in the region of €700 million.
All these millions are the cost of maintaining our broadcasting minotaur, the workers of which are the best-paid in Cyprus, not to mention the thieving from public funds in the form of payment for no work, over-generous pay for overtime (often fictitious), squandering huge amounts on worthless productions that dumb down viewers and the organisation of expensive events such as cruises of the Aegean. Of all the small fiefdoms of the public sector, the CyBC boasts the most provocative behaviour, made all the more infuriating given that it is funded directly by the taxpayer.
Even after the budget cuts of the last two years, €27million to €30 million, from the troika loans that will be repaid by the taxpayer, are sunk into the CyBC annually so that the numerous indolent princes it employs could enjoy the good life. Apart from this, there is huge deficit of €110 million in the pension fund which pays retired workers, who have never contributed a cent to the fund, extortionate monthly pensions.
This is the deficit that some of our smart deputies, like Giorgos Perdikis who feel intense pleasure pandering to public employees, had suggested should be covered by the taxpayer transferring payment of the pensions to the consolidated fund of the state. The CyBC fiefdom, is also a creation of our political demagogues.
As at Cyprus Airways, party rusfeti was in full flow at the corporation. A classic example of this appalling phenomenon was the mass recruitment, a few years ago, of some 30 workers that had been made redundant by the AKEL-controlled radio station Astra. The Astra workers that in reality were employees of AKEL could not have been left jobless so the party arranged for the taxpayer to be burdened with their wages. And of course, the overstaffed CyBC, which was a monument to mismanagement, was happy to a favour to the party that was ruling the country at the time.
There is dirt under any stone you lift in this country and below the dirt are our political demagogues. In this rotten environment that the politicians created and maintain it is only natural that every so often we would encounter cases such as that of the senior CyBC employee and her daughter.