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House president defends MPs with NPLs voting on related laws

House president Demetris Syllouris

House of Representatives president Demetris Syllouris said on Friday there was nothing improper with MPs who had non-performing loans voting on related bills, as he also suggested that parliament had passed laws that were in favour of the banks.

Presenting parliament’s annual report, Syllouris commented on information disclosed at an inquiry into the collapse of the co-op bank about the existence of 3,000 bank accounts of people linked to politically exposed persons, or PEPs, out of which one-third, or €202m, represented bad loans.

Syllouris said he knew what MPs declared in their capital statements which were posted on the House website.

If there was anyone who knew that an MP has hidden something then they can report it, he added.

“From then on these are personal matters. I don’t think an MP, who has a non-performing loan, cannot vote,” he said.

Asked whether MPs should declare their NPL as a conflict of interest during voting, Syllouris said by the same token anyone with a car should not vote on fuel taxes.

“An MP’s or any other official’s conflict of interest, apart from what is specified by law and international practices, must entail personal interest,” he said.

The House president went on to add that a lot of loans became delinquent not because the borrowers were bad payers but due to bank practices.

“We have turned the banks into wild beasts and let us not go along with the philosophy pushed by the banks that all Cypriots have become strategic defaulters,” Syllouris said.

He said people became bad payers because of the high interest rates imposed by the banks and parliament and the state did not try to put a limit to them.

“There was also the issue of guarantors, for which I have a personal opinion, because you know there shouldn’t be any guarantors, especially after the crisis,” Syllouris said. “We’ve passed one-sided laws – and this is a political view and I haven’t stopped having political views because I became House president – in favour of the banks and the banks haven’t showed any response.”

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