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Our View: This government can not be blamed for the demise of Co-op bank

Disy deputy Savia Orphanidou had a point when she said that every time elections approached the opposition parties tabled for discussion the collapse of the Co-op Bank, which she described as “re-heated meal,”

“The last time we discussed the matter was in February 2021, that is three months before the parliamentary elections, and today, three months before the presidential election, it has been brought back by the opposition because of petty political expediency,” said Orphanidou and speculated: “Should we guess that the next time the matter is brought back will be three months before the 2026 parliamentary elections?”

The Anastasiades government has had to carry the responsibility for the closing down of the Co-op bank in 2018 because this suits the opposition parties, which like to pretend they were blameless for the collapse. The Co-op was doomed and if there is one criticism that should be made of the government was that it sunk some €2 billion of the taxpayer’s money into it, to keep it alive for a few more years. This, at least safeguarded people’s deposits, giving them time to withdraw their money.

For opposition politicians, however, to claim that the government was to blame for the closing down of the Co-op takes a lot of nerve, especially as they know that it was decades of mismanagement, corruption, and incompetence, sponsored by the political parties that destroyed the co-op movement. This was the bank “with the human face” that gave away money and never bothered to pursue loan repayments. It was driven into the ground long before the arrival of the troika and the injection of the state cash. No restructuring and refinancing could have saved it.

Yet the opposition deputies keep promoting the myth that the government was to blame for the Co-op’s demise. They invited the police at Thursday’s House committee meeting to find out how the criminal investigations into the collapse were going. They were disappointed to hear from the deputy chief of police that the force had made little progress although investigations were continuing. Opposition deputies need someone to be punished for what an Akel deputy described “the premeditated crime against the Co-op.”

Amusingly, there were deputies talking about the need to re-form the Co-op. The populist chairman of the committee, Diko’s Zacharias Koulias said the re-establishing of the Co-op was “a dire necessity” and “whoever disagrees is a supporter of the banks.” The Diko maverick was not on his own. He claimed presidential candidate Christodoulides supported the re-establishment of the Co-op. Akel deputy Giorgos Loucaides said the government of Andreas Mavroyiannis would fully support the re-establishment of the Co-op.

It seems there is now a new Co-op theme, when elections approach – candidates are promising the re-establishment of the Co-op. As long as they do not use the taxpayer’s money, they can do as they like.

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