Attorney-general (AG) Costas Clerides told lawmakers on Monday that his office, as well as judges, should be exempt from the provisions of government legislation that aims to contain the public payroll.
The government bill intends to “keep the public payroll within a reasonable budgetary framework,” for example by linking wage hikes to increases in GDP.
But the AG opined that this should not apply to his office or to judges.
It was a question of constitutionality, not of economics, said Clerides.
The provision in question could clash with articles 153 and 112 of the constitution. The former deals with Supreme Court judges, the latter with the office of the attorney-general and the deputy attorney-general, a position currently vacant.
Article 153 of the constitution reads: “The remuneration and other conditions of service of any judge of the High Court shall not be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment.”
However, speaking at the House finance committee, neither Clerides nor Supreme Court President Myron Nikolatos objected to court functionaries – civil servants – being subjected to a wage freeze under the government bill.
This would not be a problem, Clerides said, because the law governing the courts already contains its own provisions governing wage increases and wage indexation for civil servants employed in the judicial system.
The AG also revealed that a draft bill was in the works, making the attorney-general’s office (legal services) a fully autonomous agency.
He did not unveil details, except to say that the attorney-general’s office would enjoy the same autonomy as do judicial authorities.