Law Commissioner Leda Koursoumba on Tuesday accused Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides of not using objective criteria when he drew his recent conclusions about her use of her service car, merely comparing the number of kilometres she covered in her vehicle with those of his own service car.
Koursoumba, who is also the Children’s Rights Commissioner, following statements last week by Michaelides that she had been using a work vehicle for personal use and illegally getting a messenger to be her driver, has made public excerpts of a letter she sent to him with her response to his latest accusations.
The fact that Michaelides drew his conclusions by comparing the number of kilometres covered by her service vehicle with the ones of his own was “an arbitrary and subjective comparison, which clearly overlooks the difference in the mission and responsibilities of the institutions I serve to those of the institution of the Auditor-general, but also my actual duties of service, many of which are made in outside service hours, in the afternoon, in the evenings, weekends and holidays, all over Cyprus”.
These include, among other things, she said, visits to schools, participation in conferences, meetings, events, meetings with officials, visits to places hosting children, participation in meetings of parliamentary committees, ministries and other bodies.
She added that the issue of the employment of a driver / clerk by officials is not regulated by any law as the department of public administration and personnel had approved in 2003 the creation of an hourly-paid post for a driver/clerk to meet the needs of the office of the Law Commissioner outside service hours.
“This position has been budgeted by the state and has been approved annually so far,” she said.
Koursoumba also said that she has instructed the accounts officer of her service to keep log books for service vehicles in compliance with the Auditor-general’s observations.
She added however, that despite the annual audits of the two departments she chairs “no Auditor-general, including the current one, had previously pointed out to me this omission”.
Michaelides said last week he had sent Koursoumba a letter outlining that her use of a state vehicle for personal purposes was illegal as she was using a messenger as a driver, who was paid monthly, further burdening state coffers.
In an initial statement, Koursoumba responded to the allegations saying Michaelides was resorting to unprofessional and intimidating tactics in carrying out his duties “demonstrating that his priority is not to serve the benefit of the state… but to feed society’s thirst for gossip.”