Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides told an anti-corruption conference on Friday that there was too much tolerance for corruption in Cyprus, a phenomenon that is a “monster which cripples societies”.
He said corruption was a scourge which weakens core principles such as democracy and equality, while it impoverishes countries which may otherwise flourish – pointing to Brazil which, he said, could be as prosperous as the US.
“Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, damages public finances, distorts markets, cripples the state and leads to bureaucratic inefficiency – further eroding the public’s quality of life,” he told the audience.
University students took part in the conference centred on combatting corruption and voiced their opinions at the event which was held at the auditor general’s office on Friday, to mark the international anti-corruption day.
The event was organised by the recently appointed anti-corruption authority, which was represented by Tatiana Zachariadou.
She said: “Combating corruption brings us closer to our goals of sustainable development, it helps us protect our planet, it creates jobs, it safeguards equality and ensures the public’s access to essential services such as health and education.”
Michaelides explained that the anti-corruption authority is a natural ally of his office but that it cannot be solely up to them to control the issue, emphasising the need for society to change, too.
He explained that the younger generation has a key role to play in salting the fertile ground within which corruption has taken root, saying that education could achieve that.
Michaelides said that educating children at primary school of the insidious impact of corruption would be a positive development.
President Nicos Anastasiades appointed the five members of the anti-corruption authority in May, after the bills setting up the body were finally passed in February – a requirement of the EU’s funds package.
Harris Poyiadjis, a former judge, chairs the authority, and also holds the title of Transparency Commissioner – was also present at the conference.
But just last month complaints arose that the authority is still unable to carry out its work as parliament has not passed the required legislation.