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President cancels plan to allow more officials access to service car

general view of the presidential palace in nicosia

President Nicos Anastasiades has ordered the finance ministry to rescind the decision to reinstate 24-hour access to a service car for personal use to certain state officials, the presidency announced on Monday.

This came after strong reactions from auditor-general Odysseas Michalelides, who railed against the cabinet decision last week.

The change was submitted to parliament on Thursday by the finance ministry for discussion and approval.

In a written statement government spokesman Marios Pelekanos explained that the officials previously excluded from the privilege came together to request the cabinet consider the gradual reinstatement of benefits for those in the public sector.

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 from home to work.

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and other state officials 24-hour access to a service vehicle for personal use without restrictions – a privilege that was revoked for some positions in 2016 because of the economic crisis and reports of abuses from the auditor-general’s office.

The latest cabinet decision, dated January 5, reinstated the privilege for the directors of state service and education commissions, general secretaries within parliament, ministries and deputy ministries, the director of the president’s office, presidential commissioners, and the cabinet secretary.

“The decision was made considering that the state would incur minimal extra costs while going ahead with the move, as it would not need to purchase additional vehicles,” Pelekanos said.

It also came about after consultations between the affected officials and political parties, he added.

Despite the above, Pelekanos said that the president decided to order the finance ministry to withdraw the decision from the House agenda after it was implied that the privilege would be abused by the beneficiaries.

“Before, these officials were asking for cars to be able to take them to work and back, now they want them so they can go to the beach with their families,” Michaelides told Politis last week.

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