Parliament on Thursday passed the government’s second supplementary budget for fiscal year 2022, with the debate on the House floor devolving into a spat over a €43,000 allocation to a foundation dedicated to Georgios Grivas.
The second supplementary budget comes to €171.8 million. It relates to additional expenditures on coronavirus-related measures, extraordinary expenditures for the fallout due to the war in Ukraine, armaments expenditures, spending on fire prevention, and spending on various benefits.
But main opposition party Akel slammed the government, saying its additional spending still failed to support “the real economy,” leaving vulnerable groups and businesses to fend for themselves in the face of rampant inflation.
By far the single biggest item on the budget was the €52.8 million allocated to the defence ministry – an advance for the purchase of six attack helicopters manufactured by Airbus. The deal for the purchase was sealed in Nicosia a few days ago.
The budget also featured €36 million for the purchase of water from desalination plants. MPs said the price was too steep because of the high cost of electricity used by the desalination plants – which factors into the bill they send the government. Edek’s Elias Myriathous asked why the Water Development Department did not arrange for these companies to buy their energy from renewables instead of getting it from the state power corporation.
But the issue that dominated the proceedings was the €43,000 allocated to the Georgios Grivas Foundation.
A controversial figure in Cypriot history, Grivas – nicknamed ‘Digenis’ – was the leader of Eoka, a Greek Cypriot nationalist paramilitary organisation that fought a campaign for the end of British rule in Cyprus, and for eventual union with Greece.
Akel filed an amendment on the House floor – an unorthodox practice – to block the release of the €43,000 for the foundation. The amendment passed.
Akel MP Giorgos Loucaides accused the government of trickery – it had tried to hide the true purpose of the funds by omitting to mention the name ‘Grivas’ in the text of the bill.
Loukaides went on to call Grivas “the destroyer of Cyprus.”
The remark drew a response from ruling Disy’s Nicos Tornaritis, who accused Akel of engaging in “Goebbels-like propaganda.”