Opposition MPs honed in on the government’s failings on the second day of the budget debate on Thursday, leaving Disy alone to defend what it said was a successful track record in tackling the crisis created by the pandemic.
The three-day debate on the €6.73 billion state budget for 2022 which got underway on Wednesday culminates with what is expected to be relatively smooth passage on Friday with the combined votes of Disy, and opposition parties Diko and Dipa. Akel and Elam have said they will vote against, with the Greens and Edek expected to do the same
But Friday’s anticipated approval of the budget did not spare the government from an onslaught of criticism.
Akel Paphos MP Valentinos Fakontis said the budget lacked vision and was based on a neo-liberal recipe which ignored the needs of society. He also hit out against corruption, saying that the government’s biggest achievement was to drag Cyprus’ name through the mud with the now defunct cash for passports scheme.
He also castigated the signing of the traffic camera contract before the bill was submitted to parliament, preventing elected representatives from making any changes.
Greens MP for Nicosia Alexandra Attalides said citizens have lost faith in politicians as she called for a clean-out in all sectors so as to regain public confidence. She also highlighted the need for reforms that will bolster the rule of law and marginalise those who enter politics for self-gain. Public servants should not only refuse to break the law at the prodding of their political superiosr but should report such cases, she said.
Attalides also criticised the government as regards its climate change policies. On the migration problem, the government has unfortunately succeeded in convincing public opinion that irregular migrants, and not the state, are to blame for their destitute state.
Edek’s Larnaca MP Andreas Apostolou called for measures to bolster public schools as part of a new comprehensive national education plan. Children with disabilities and learning difficulties need to be supported as this was one of the “biggest blights in our education”.
The next decade belongs to Larnaca which has been deprived the growth it deserves, he added, as a number of factors have created significant prospects for the town and district.
Diko MP for Famagusta Christos Senekis drew attention to the inequalities and distortions which endanger social cohesion, best demonstrated by the blatant inequality in pensions with some beneficiaries enjoying multiple pensions while many other pensioners live below the poverty line.
Michalis Yiakoumi, who represents Famagusta for Dipa, said every effort should be made to keep prospects for a Cyprus settlement alive. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of ensuring the state offers health services to all citizens. Though not problem free, Gesy was an achievement which must be bolstered.
There was praise for the government from Disy MP Kyrenia Rita Superman, who said the 2022 budget meets the needs of the day and approval will help modernise the country. The government’s decisions have helped citizens recover from the financial crisis and the pandemic, while the recovery and resilience programme will create a resilient health system improve competitiveness, introduce a green deal and digital reform and modernise the education system. The 2022 budget may not satisfy the needs and expectations 100 per cent but opens the road to the modernisation of society, she said.
Fellow Disy MP Prodromos Alambrides, representing Larnaca, spoke in a similar vein, saying the government had taken tough decisions to deal with the pandemic and formulated a plan of action for future growth.