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Cyprus

Plenty of lawyers with good track record as finance ministers, says Mavroyiannis’ man

prountzos
Charalambos Prountzos is set to be appointed finance minister should Andreas Mavroyiannis be elected president on Sunday

Andreas Mavroyiannis’ decision to appoint Charalambos Prountzos as finance minister should he be elected as president, garnered a mix bag of reactions on Thursday.

Not long after the announcement, social media was awash by clips from an interview Prountzos gave in a podcast called LegalMatters, where he openly says a lawyer should not be finance minister.

“First of all, I will not be finance minister because I do not believe a lawyer, particularly under these current conditions, should be the minister of finance,” he said during the podcast, in reply to a question, dated January 13, on what would be his first steps as finance minister.

He also quipped Cyprus had a habit of deeming anyone in a good suit with a political opinion, fit for ministerial post.

When asked to explain his earlier comments on Politis radio on Thursday, Prountzos, however, said that a number of a number of people have held economic related posts with a legal degree, such as Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank.

Closer to home, Christos Mavrellis has been one of Cyprus’ “most successful finance ministers”, with a law degree, he noted.

Prountzos also heralded former Health Minister Giorgos Pamborides, who successfully implemented Gesy but did not have a health background.

Furthermore, argued in favour of intervening in the energy market with a goal of focusing on renewable energy sources, and on creating incentives for digitally transforming the public service.

At the time of the interview on January 13, Prountzos said he was campaigning for Mavroyiannis’ presidency and was not interested in suiting himself up for a ministerial post or being in the limelight for himself.

He conceded that times are challenging at the moment, with high interest rates and inflation.

However, he said “a finance minister is not appointed for a few months. He is appointed for five years.”

He sought to highlight he is not just a lawyer but a businessman, and expects a revolutionary transformation in digital services and green energy.

Prountzos said he never hid away from the fact that he adopted values linked to a free market economy, supporting the candidacies of Ioannis Kassoulides in 2008 and President Nicos Anastasiades in 2013.

Prountzos born in 1978, is a lawyer by profession, and was chosen because he is a “self-made businessman, with rich experience in legal matters that concern energy,” Mavroyiannis’ announcement said.

He described Prountzos as a selection from a young generation with demonstrative experience in green energy, technocratic matters and as someone able to make difficult decisions.

Mavroyiannis, who is backed by Akel, said he would also set up a team of presidential advisors for matters related to the economy, headed by Dr. Marios Clerides.

Michalis Persianis, chairman of Cyprus’ fiscal council, threw his weight behind Prountzos, saying he was an apt choice. He dismissed concerns surrounding his legal background, highlighting that ministerial positions have a political leader.

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