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Our View: Problem of headless state organisations needs to be addressed

The CyBC

THE PRESS and Information Office, also known as the PIO, has appointed a new director. It had been without a head for some time, the duties being performed by an acting director until someone was eventually appointed. Having an acting boss, for a year, or two or three, is standard practice at state organisations at which the appointment of a director or general manager always takes several years to be completed.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the CyBC board finally decided to appoint a general manager. The post had been vacant since June 2014 when the then general manager went into retirement and the top management responsibilities were being carried out by an acting GM. Cyprus News Agency, which has been run by an acting GM for several years now, might soon have a proper GM, the decision of choosing between two candidates having been left to the courts. The CTO has also been without a GM for several years now.

This is just another illustration of the inefficiency and poor organisation of entities run by political parties and their appointees. It would be inconceivable for a business that has 50 or 100 staff to be without a chief executive for two or three years and relying on someone acting up. Of course at state organisations, this arrangement suits the boards which are made up of political appointees that can call the shots in the absence of a proper chief executive. Admittedly, the board and especially the chairman can still be involved in the day to day running of an organisation if a weak GM is appointed.

Some progress has been made in the recruitment method as outsiders can now be hired on contracts for the top posts of state organisations. In past years only people from the organisation could have been appointed but now anyone can apply for the top posts, which is a good thing as outsiders could bring new thinking to these monolithic state entities. The new CyBC general manager was employed by RCB while the new head of the PIO worked for Disy, a fact that is certain to spark murmurs of rusfeti. There is one peculiarity however. The head of the PIO will hold the position until retirement where the CyBC head is on a five-year contract. Surely, all the top positions that are open to people from outside the public service should be on finite contracts.

The government needs to address the problem of headless state organisations run for years by de-motivated staff acting up or by political appointees. A big step has been made by opening many of these positions to managers from outside the public service, but appointments have to be made promptly, rather than take two or three years.


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