Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Competition watchdog member quits over party role

By Angelos Anastasiou

COMMISSION for the Protection of Competition (EPA) member Christos Tsingis resigned his post due to his disagreement with a ruling by the newly-founded administrative court that deemed his appointment illegal as he also held a party post, he announced on Friday.

After hearing an appeal by the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA), which asked that an earlier EPA decision be rescinded on grounds of Tsingis’ capacity as member of DIKO’s central committee did not allow him to be fair and objective, the court ruled in the state telecoms company’s favour.

CyTA’s appeal related to an agreement it had reached with private telecoms company Primetel in 2008, with which it sold the private firm access to a subsea cable system, the capacity of which was expanded by a second agreement between the two parties in 2009.

Meanwhile, Primetel had resorted to the competition watchdog, claiming that the 2009 expansion should have been given by CyTA at no added cost.

EPA ruled in Primetel’s favour, and CyTA took the government’s competition authority to court.

Tsingis was appointed to EPA in May 2013, but the administrative court found that his appointment was incompatible with his party post, which could conceivably cause the reopening of every decision EPA has taken since Tsingis’ appointment.

“Today, I submitted my resignation to the President, effective immediately,” Tsingis said in a statement.

“My resignation is owed to today’s ruling of the administrative court. Although I respect the court’s decision, I feel that my participation in DIKO’s central committee confers no financial or other interest, which could affect my impartial judgement. This ruling essentially criminalises politics, which I find unacceptable.”

According to Tsingis, the law governing other authorities or commissions clearly prohibit the appointment of party members, but no such clause exists in the EPA law.

“Had this been a provision of the EPA law, as it is in other authorities or commissions, I could decide whether to accept the appointment or resign DIKO’s central committee,” he said.

But, although the authority plans to contest the ruling on appeal, Tsingis said, he did not wish to be a hindrance to EPA, DIKO, or the government that entrusted him with the post.

“I extended my warm thanks to the President for the opportunity he gave me, and the trust he showed me,” Tsingis said.

EPA decisions have often been disputed in recent years as board members have been deemed unqualified or unsuitable, sending matters to the courts where commercial disagreements seem to drag on over long periods of time.

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