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Cyprus

MP calls for ‘costly’ SGO welfare funds to be abolished

DISY MP Marios Mavrides said on Friday that the services of semi-government organisations (SGOs) should be privatised as their welfare funds have become carcinomas to public expenditure and are being used by employees for free vacations.

The House plenum upvoted the budget of six SGOs: the Human Resource Development Authority (Hrda), the Agricultural Payments Organisation (Capo), the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (Cera), of the Cyprus Transmission System Operator of Electrical Energy (Cyprus TSO), of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and of the Radio Television Authority (Crta).

The Hrda budget for 2017 provides for €31m expenditure and revenues of €27.6m, Capo’s expenditure is estimated at €10.4m and revenue at €10.18m, and the Cera costs are expected to amount to €2.44m with revenues at €2.7m. The TSO’s estimated expenditure is €6.83m with a balanced income, while the Crta’s revenue for 2017 is estimated at €1.76m and expenditure at €1.62m.

The CTO’s expenditure is estimated at €50.79m and around the same in revenue.

Mavrides said that the SGOs “have become carcinomas” and called for the privatisation of their services.

Expenditure on these organisations’ welfare funds, he said, “concerns money given to the employees to go on holidays”.

The taxpayer, he said, pays between three to five per cent for these organisations’ employees to have free vacations in Cyprus and abroad, and between five and seven percent for their private sector healthcare.

MPs downvoted the Greens’ proposed amendment that would have slashed by 10 per cent the phone, hospitality and attendance allowances of the Hrda, Capo, Cera, and the TSO.

Greens’ MP Giorgos Perdikis, defending his party’s proposal, said that these organisations restored allowances for high ranking employees to the pre-crisis levels, which is provocative to those less fortunate.

“Why does the board of a semi-government organisation want to spend €28,000 in hospitality expenses, when they deal neither with tourism nor international relations?” Perdikis said.

“It is unthinkable to restore allowances [in semi-governmental organisations] while the slashing of the allowances of the disabled, large families and other needy beneficiaries of social welfare continues,” he said.

Last month, the government unveiled legislation establishing three under-secretariats, with opposition deputies doubting whether the move will trim operational costs as the administration claims.

Via the bills, the government aims to set up under-secretariats for tourism, maritime affairs, and growth and economic development. These would not be at Cabinet level, but would report directly to the president.

Undersecretary to the President and Reform Commissioner Constantinos Petrides had said the three sub-ministries would not lead to an expanding of the bureaucratic machine, but rather would streamline the state’s operation.

The government says its goal is to cut red tape, by doing away with overlapping jurisdictions.

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