In what might have qualified as a bureaucratic paradox straight out of the 1980s series ‘Yes Minister’, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has just retroactively reappointed as director of Civil Aviation a man who passed away in 2014.
The situation is slightly more complex, though. On July 18, the PSC, in charge of appointments and promotions in the civil service, decided to reaffirm the appointment of the late Iacovos Demetriou to the position of head of Civil Aviation (DCA) for the period 2005 to 2014.
Demetriou had served as director of DCA from 2005 until his death in 2014.
From 2005 to 2014, several appeals were lodged at the Supreme Court and the Administrative Court against Demetriou’s initial appointment.
The court processes meant that throughout this period Demetriou’s appointment was under review by the PSC.
Finally, on July 18 of this year, the PSC again reviewed its initial appointment of Demetriou and decided that it had been correct.
In its subsequent decision, the body therefore determined that Demetriou should be declared head of the DCA from 2005 to 2014.
In a statement it released on Wednesday seeking to explain the matter, the PSC said the process of opening up the position of DCA director, following Demetriou’s passing in 2014, had been put on hold pending the adjudication of appeals before the Supreme Court.
With those processes now concluded, the PSC added, the procedures to fill the position would be set in motion “as soon as possible” with the assessment of the applications submitted back in 2014.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, the head of the PSC Giorgos Papageorgiou said press reports about a dead man being appointed to a position in the civil service were imprecise.
The story was broken by daily Phileleftheros, which asserted that a deceased person had been appointed head of the DCA.
“There’s a misunderstanding. What has actually happened is that Mr Demetriou’s appointment has been retroactively reaffirmed, after his death, and only for the period during which he was alive and served in that position, that is, from 2005 to 2014,” he said.
“Naturally we were aware that Mr Demetriou was deceased. This was purely a procedural matter.”
Retroactive reappointments of civil servants are a common occurrence, he added.
Prior to the PSC releasing its statement, Giorgos Lillikas, leader of the Citizens Alliance party, jumped the gun, panning the government for appointing a deceased person.
“The PSC and the Cypriot state are world trailblazers in the most tragic of senses. I would say that this constitutes a humiliation of our state, which shows how anachronistic certain institutions have become,” he said.