THE REVELATIONS and allegations surrounding the landfill scandals which have led to the issue of remand orders against more than a dozen people, extradition requests from Greek nationals and political recriminations have raised a very interesting question – to what extent were politicians responsible for what happened? Was a minister of interior who had the political responsibility – by virtue of his position – for landfills and waste treatment to blame for the one-sided contracts which cost the taxpayer tens of millions of euro?
The AKEL mayor of Limassol Andreas Christou, who had served as interior minister when the consultants Enviroplan were hired in 2003 to prepare the specifications for the tenders procedure (specs that blatantly favoured Helector, the company which was awarded the contract), claimed this week that he was not aware of what had happened. Under the Tassos Papadopoulos presidency, ministers did not deal with the issue of tenders, said Christou on Tuesday, thus washing his hands of the whole matter. So ministers, according to Christou, were not expected to show an interest in tenders for state contracts, relating to their ministry’s policies and worth many millions of pounds.
The current interior minister Socratis Hasikos, who had ordered an investigation into the Koshi landfill contract in September 2013, a few months after he was appointed, on his own initiative, took a different line, claiming that political responsibility for such matters belonged to ministers and presidents. The findings of the investigations were forwarded to the attorney-general’s office which found the evidence was insufficient for a criminal case. It is only recently that people involved have started to talk that such a case is possible.
Hasikos, to his credit, tried to do something so it was a bit rich of AKEL MEP, Neoclis Sylikiotis, who had served as interior minister under Papadopoulos and Christofias and did nothing, to criticise him for negotiating an extension of the contract at a lower price. At least Hasikos tried to ease the burden on the taxpayer, which was much more than Sylikiotis had ever done. The attitude of the AKEL ministers is perfectly in keeping with the party’s philosophy, highlighted during the Christofias presidency, of power without responsibility.
In the case of the Koshi contract, then president, Papadopoulos also had a big share of the responsibility, because despite being alerted to the one-sidedness of the contract and the suspect procedures followed, he agreed to its signing. For this, he deserves censure and his son is unjustified claiming that Tassos had no responsibility and was being unfairly attacked. President Anastasiades, who sanctioned the extension of the contract, at a lower cost last year (Hasikos could not have taken the decision on his own), is also culpable.
It is very easy to blame crooked civil servants for the Koshi scandal, but ultimately, the responsibility belongs to their political superiors who did nothing to stop the theft of the taxpayer’s money.