Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Shameful truth behind SGO ‘national wealth’

By Loucas Charalambous

A DAY rarely goes by without some report about the staggering squandering of public money in semi-governmental organisations. These organisations, which our political demagogues describe as public wealth, have emphatically been proven to be in reality a public danger.

It is also important to note that what emerges very clearly from the revelations are the culprits of this desperate state of affairs. There are the unions on the one hand and on the other political parties that support them and urge them on. The funny thing is that, at least recently, the catastrophic actions of the unions are being exposed through information that surfaces in parliamentary committees; in other words in the House of our political parties which are one of the guilty parties.

The last few days produced a wealth of information about what was going on. Speaking at a House committee, Takis Kyriakides, chairman of Cyprus Airways in the 1997-1999 period, gave a very convincing account of the insane situation that had been imposed in the company by the unions with the full support of the political demagogues, with the result that an ambitious rescue plan that had been put together and would have made the airline viable was killed.

The plan envisaged a reduction of staff by between 500 and 700 people, a freezing of wages for three years and a reduction in pilots’ salaries by 10 per cent. Kyriakides recounted in detail the rabid reaction of the Cyprus Airways unions whose representatives would go to meetings with management supposedly to discuss the plan and instead demanded pay rises. Kyriakides attributed this recklessly irresponsible behaviour, which eventually led to the bankruptcy and closure of the company, to the conviction of the employees and their unions that “Cyprus Airways would never be allowed to close down.”

This was the reality, and it is important to point out that the unions’ arrogant behaviour was fuelled by the unstinting support they had from the political parties inside and outside the legislature. From the moment all their unreasonable demands were encouraged and supported by the parties it was inevitable they believed that “Cyprus Airways would never be allowed to close down.” If the politicians had been capable of acting responsibly and told the unions that if they did not co-operate the company would close down, employees would not have behaved in this reckless way.

A few days earlier in the legislature it was revealed that the CyTA pension fund – another national Minotaur – incurred losses from its investments amounting to €240 million in 2013 and 2014. Of course all these losses will be covered by the taxpayer. There is already a bill at the legislature for covering part of the deficits with a payment of €20.9 million by the state.

The ‘princes’ working at CyTA – even those whose decisions had caused all these losses – will lose nothing. In contrast, the losses suffered by the provident funds of private companies, as a result of the collapse of the two banks were inflicted on employees, who had been paying into them all their lives. Many private sector employees have lost all their life savings as a result.

The same despicable situation is evident at the CyBC the pension fund which has a deficit of €120 million. This will also be covered, sooner or later, by the taxpayer. One generous deputy has already suggested that the fat pensions of CyBC employees be paid from the state’s consolidated fund.

These are some examples of what the unions and the political parties in the semi-governmental organisations have achieved. And these organisations with the huge black holes, in which millions belonging to taxpaying citizens disappear, are, according to AKEL, EDEK, DIKO, Lillikas, Perdikis and the rest of our demagogues, the “national wealth” that must not be privatised because privatisation would constitute “selling-off” of this wealth.

Are these organisations really national wealth or national vampires that suck the blood of the taxpayer?

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