Cyprus Mail

Petrides suggests state take financial control of Cyprus Rally

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Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides on Thursday suggested the government take financial control and management of the annual Cyprus Rally, amid claims that the current event organisers are leeching off the state.

Although the Cyprus Rally is currently organised and run by the Cyprus Automobile Association – a private entity – the state covers almost the entire cost of the event.

Given this state of affairs, Petrides suggested the event should instead come under the control of the Cyprus Motorsport Federation, which is part of the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA).

At present the head of the Cyprus Automobile Association is former commerce minister Antonis Michaelides.

“There is a certain principle in place – namely, that we have one federation per sport. But in this case we have a very peculiar situation. The rally is not organised by the Cyprus Motorsport Federation, but by a private company, a company that received state grants and without any audits,” Petrides told MPs.

From 2003 to 2021 the state grants to the Cyprus Rally amounted to €10.3 million, with “no checks” on how these funds were being managed – and therefore no way to ascertain whether the state was getting its money’s worth.

“It is inconceivable that such events receive no funding from the private sector,” the minister added, citing for comparison the Acropolis Rally in Greece where private funds cover up to 70 per cent of the costs.

Petrides also said that though the government had decided to stop the grants to the Cyprus Rally for the year 2021, ultimately the amount set aside was given because of “threats” that otherwise the Republic might be sued because the car crews had already come to the island.

He also claimed that at the time he had personally received messages – he did not say from whom – that the rally would take place in the north if the government withdrew its financial support.

The discussion took place at the House audit committee. It devolved into petty bickering when Edek MP Marinios Sizopoulos censured Elam MP Sotiris Ioannou – who had tabled the matter for discussion – of failing to invite the Cyprus Automobile Association so that it might defend itself.

Sizopoulos said this was deliberate. He claimed the real purpose behind the proceedings was to target him personally, as he had served on the board of the Cyprus Automobile Association until 2011.

He suggested Ioannou was trying to stir the pot so as to get back at Sizopoulos, who earlier had claimed that Ioannou tried to dodge the army draft.

The House committee will revisit the matter at a later date, when a representative of the Cyprus Automobile Association will be present.

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