The government reiterated on Friday that it is taking corrective steps to address shortcomings in the call-up system for National Guard reservists, an issue highlighted in a recent report by the auditor-general.
Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou acknowledged that the reservists’ system has been plagued by problems for decades, but said that measures are being taken.
“These are technical weaknesses, problems relating to the monitoring of the system, but which also reveal a problem in mentality [in reporting for reservist duty],” Prodromou said.
He said the government has already taken some steps to rectify the situation, and already since January this has produced better results. He did not elaborate.
In any case, the spokesman added, the necessary changes would be fast-tracked. This is where computerisation and e-government come in, he added.
Although the government welcomes the identification of problems in the armed forces’ recruitment and reservist systems, this information should have been kept away from the public eye, in the interests of national security.
Prodromou was echoing the defence ministry, which a day earlier likewise stated that the disclosure of sensitive information relating to the military could compromise the army’s operational capability and expose weaknesses to adversaries.
The ministry was responding to the publication of a report by the audit office that showed widespread dodging by men eligible for reservist duty.
According to the report, some 11,000 Cypriot men do not serve in the National Guard reserves either because they fail to declare their repatriation, are still listed as being students abroad despite being over 30, or they know someone in high places.
It said 10,930 men who did their army service between 1990 and 2010, have not been recruited as reserves because they are still registered in the computerised system as an “external student.”
The audit found that out of the total number of people registered as having done army service during the 20-year period, only 46 per cent are listed as reservists, while the remaining 54 per cent are listed as having temporary exemptions from reserve duty.
These include people currently serving as board members of semi-government organisations, football referees in the first division of the Cyprus League, first-division footballers, politicians, as well as people who work at the presidential palace, lawyers and media.
Many also have relatives in the cabinet, local authorities, parliament and big business, the report said.