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Our View: The folly of creating so many deputy ministries will come back to haunt us

education ministry jpeg

The establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Culture has been set in motion. Last week the council of ministers approved the relevant bill and it was submitted to the legislature for approval. Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said “after decades, we see our country acquire a separate political structure for culture,” and felt this was an “important historical moment for culture.”

The move is perfectly in keeping with the Soviet idea, embraced by all our politicians, that culture is imposed from above, the responsibility of the state and its bureaucrats, who, as Prodromou said, would “take care of culture.” The deputy ministry, apart from looking after our cultural heritage, will also put an emphasis on “cultural diplomacy,” in cooperation with the foreign ministry and enrich our tourist product by “projecting the dimension of cultural tourism.”

We would have thought, as the government is so committed to culture, it would have also developed some education policy on culture for public schools which do next to nothing to encourage an appreciation, let alone a love of culture. How much of the curriculum at public schools is devoted to the arts? How much music and drama are there in the curriculum? The arts do not get a look-in at our schools, but we will address this glaring deficiency of the state education system by setting up a deputy ministry for culture.

It may sound rather pessimistic, but the Anastasiades government’s policy of setting up one deputy ministry after the other will merely expand an already bloated civil service. So far, we have deputy ministries of shipping, digital innovation, and tourism while a bill for the setting up of a deputy ministry for social welfare is under discussion at the House of Representatives. Culture will follow. For now, existing staff is moved to the deputy ministries, but how long will it take before additional staff are hired?

Prodromou gave the answer. With regard to the culture deputy ministry, he said it would be up to the deputy minister, to “gradually claim funds from the budget to make a plan and staff the services,” as “with time the deputy ministry would be able to develop.” This is what the danger is for the taxpayer – the deputy ministries will develop which means many more well-paid civil service jobs for life will be created, continuing the upward spiral of the public payroll and upping red tape.

It is the same philosophy that led to a tiny country having 30 municipalities which it took us many years to realise we could not afford. In a few years’ time, when the state is short of money again, we may understand the folly of the deputy ministries.

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