By Evie Andreou
Two unions representing workers from the semi-state telecoms company Cyta warned of measures on Friday should a cabinet decision for the privatisation of the utility be implemented.
In a written statement, unions Sidikek- PEO warned that “workers, political forces and civil society will react and fight once again to prevent what has been planned, to protect public interest.”
The Akel affiliated unions were referring to statements earlier in the day by Finance Minister, Harris Georgiades, who told state-radio CyBC that the government was intending to try to find a majority in the parliament to pass its revised proposal for a partial privatisation of Cyta, as part of a new reform attempt.
An earlier attempt made months before Cyprus completed its cash-for-reform programme ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections, was quickly abandoned when the government met the expected political opposition.
The new effort which comes more than six months after the re-election of President Nicos Anastasiades, include the appointment of new judges, a revision of a bundle of bills overhauling human resource which the parliament rejected almost two years ago and e-governance.
“The second government proposal (on Cyta) is at the parliament for some months now,” Georgiades said. “What differentiates this proposal from the initial one is that the government maintains the majority shareholding. Cyta is transformed into a company and a strategic investor will be attracted who will receive both a shareholding and mainly the management.”
The minister said that the privatisation of Cyta is not required to improve public finances but instead to protect the company which has been continuously losing its market share over the past 14 years to competitors amid “rapidly changing technology.”
The unions said that the Anastasiades administration’s “machinations” had been averted, albeit temporarily, when the government and the Troika of lenders had made a priority the privatisation of Cyta and created a privatisation unit. The government at the time had given millions for studies and consultants, they said, and “submitted a bill that effectively provided for the selling off of Cyta.”
The Anastasiades administration, the unions said, found in 2013 when it came to power an organisation worth billion with profits to the tune of €80m to €90m per year and since then it has been systematically working at undermining Cyta’s business value “to prepare the ground for a comeback.” Today, they said, the government reinstated the implementation of the dogmatic position for the privatisation of Cyta at any cost.
The decision for a partial privatisation of Cyta, they said, is nothing but a rehash of the initial proposal.