THE middle class in Cyprus is the most neglected by the state, with political cronyism having an added negative impact on this sector of the population that is burdened with carrying the weight of the entire society, Disy leader Averof Neophytou said on Thursday.
Conducting an overview of the government’s work, Neophytou said that attention is usually focused on the most vulnerable groups of those with no income and, who, therefore, pay no taxes, whereas, the middle class, which is the “backbone of the Cypriot economy, is shrinking.”
This means that fewer people have to carry financial and tax burdens to support the entire society, he said.
“We must also take care of them. “We must be socially just,” Neophytou said.
The Disy leader said that every time political parties satisfy cronyism demands, “we take from the middle class, which, with much sacrifice, kept their small and medium-sized business afloat, paid their taxes, and have been servicing their loans.”
Every time a politician, he said, decides to help those seeking favours, “it is not their party that is giving it but we are taking it away from a certain social class.”
The Disy leader also said that he and his party have made many mistakes over time.
Some of them, he said, was that Disy deputies ought to have voted ‘yes’ in parliament for the first proposal by the Eurogroup in March 2013 to save the Cypriot economy from collapsing, that provided for a levy on all bank deposits instead of a haircut.
Despite Disy’s backing the proposal would have not made any difference, Neophytou said, one ought to always take a stand.
At the time, Disy deputies had abstained from the vote.
Another regret is some handling of the Disy ballot during the last parliamentary elections of May 2016, which, he said, “harmed the sense of democracy of the party.” The party, at the time, had been at pains to explain that the leadership’s decision, to replace two people on the ballot paper with candidates of its own choice, was in line with the Disy Charter, but the general impression was that the will of the members had been ignored.
Supporters reacted angrily to the party’s decision to remove Larnaca deputy Annita Demetriou, forcing the leadership to reconsider, while the final votes on election day vindicated the young candidate who turned out to be the most popular in her town.
Neophytou also said that he regretted “unfortunate statements” concerning nurses.
“One may, of course, express his or her opinion without the other person feeling that their dignity has been insulted,” he said.
He was referring to strong reaction by state nurses to his statements in 2016 during protests and strikes over benefits and understaffing. On one occasion, Neophytou had said that nurses could seek employment elsewhere.
“Even those of us who are in politics for decades make mistakes,” he said.
Neophytou said that it is only by inaction that one avoids all mistakes. “Mistakes are unavoidable, as long as they are not intentional.”
The Disy leader concluded by giving a positive and optimistic overview of the government’s work.