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Our View: an innovation ministry will stifle the very thing it is supposed to promote

Harris Georgiades has to justify the new practice of setting up one deputy ministry after another

AFTER creating the deputy ministries for shipping and tourism, the government has now taken a bill to the legislature to establish a Deputy Ministry for Innovation and Digital Policy. This was necessary to strengthen the competitiveness of the economy said finance minister Harris Georgiades, discussing the government proposal at the House finance committee.

With projects totaling €250 million in progress, has been done in the area of research and innovation in the last two years, but the minister emphasised the present lack of coordination by the state because actions were being implemented by different departments and services. By putting a deputy ministry in charge, the “state would increase its ability to promote policies, mobilise productive forces, participate effectively in the EU, with the ultimate objective of broadening the productive base of our economy,” said Georgiades.

It is difficult to understand how a sensible finance minister who supports the market economy, like Georgiades, can share Akel’s faith in the state as a driver of economic growth and talk about the state mobilising productive forces. Presumably he has to justify the new practice of setting up one deputy ministry after another. At the committee meeting he informed deputies that the government was also preparing a structure for a deputy ministry for Development and Entrepreneurship. The state will also take control of entrepreneurship, presumably in order to mobilise entrepreneurial forces.

These are the sort of ministries that exist in dysfunctional, state-controlled economies of under-developed countries. A ministry for development and entrepreneurship has no place in a market economy in which private initiative drives economic growth. Do we really need more state bureaucracy stifling free enterprise with more rules and regulations to justify the well-paid jobs of even more bureaucrats? The fact is the Anastasiades government is expanding the state, creating more public positions, even though Georgiades said the new deputy ministry would be manned by existing staff. How long will it before the deputy ministries start hiring more personnel?

What Cyprus desperately needs is a smaller state and less bureaucracy. Only a few months ago, the government had said it was planning to reduce state bureaucratic procedures because these were driving away foreign investment. Instead it is expanding the bureaucracy that stifles entrepreneurship and drives away foreign investors, through the establishment of deputy ministries that serve no purpose other than to increase state intervention in the economy. Putting state bureaucrats in charge of entrepreneurship and innovation will only lead to the death of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The only deputy ministry that Cyprus needs is one for a smaller state and less bureaucracy.


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