Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides on Friday railed against the reinstatement of the rule giving state officials access to a service car for personal use on a 24-hour basis.

“We need to fight the mentality that civil servants are a burden to the public instead of servants, if we want healthy public services and a healthy state,” he tweeted.

“It is now up to the House, which I hope will rise to the occasion,” he added.

The new change was submitted to parliament on Thursday by the finance ministry, after a cabinet decision earlier this month.

The rule gives ministers and other state officials 24-hour access to a service vehicle for personal use without restrictions – a privilege that was revoked for some positions in 2016 because of the economic crisis and reports of abuses from the attorney-general’s office.

The cabinet decision, dating back to January 5, reinstates the privilege for the directors of the state service and education commissions, general secretaries within parliament, ministries and deputy ministries, the director of the president’s office, the presidential commissioner, and the cabinet secretary.

As of 2016, they were only allowed to use state-owned limos for official business, meaning they did not even have access to the cars to travel between their house and work.

Those excluded had reportedly protested the rule, launching discussions in 2019.

“We considered provocative the efforts made in 2019 to give ministry directors the privilege of using a state limo to go home,” the Audit Office said in a Tweet, “but we consider scandalous their new efforts to get state limos they can use to go on trips with their families”.

It should be noted that the state uses up to 7,000 for the fuel and maintenance of every vehicle it owns, with maintenance under the jurisdiction of the electromechanical services.