Charalambos Prountzos has what it takes to take on the post of finance minister, outgoing Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said in an interview on Friday.

Giving Prountzos his vote of confidence, Petrides described him as “a young man who believes in the free market, a progressive man, without ideological attachments.”

In an interview with Politis, Petrides said he knew Prountzos personally and considered him knowledgeable about the market and business, since he is active in the private sector.

“I believe that he has the character and the dynamic needed for such a post.”

Akel-backed independent candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis announced earlier this week that should he be elected, Prountzos will be appointed finance minister. The move is widely seen as an invitation to Disy voters – and any others – who feared Mavroyiannis’ election may signify Akel’s return to power, hand-in-hand with Akel policies. The party has actively denied this.

Petrides nonetheless said Disy had valid concerns over a Mavroyiannis presidency after “a bitter experience” under former Akel president Demetris Christofias.

“I have fears about the government of both candidates. I have repeatedly expressed them and I do not go back on them.

“I’d like to believe, and I think this is Akel’s effort, that if Mavroyiannis is elected, he will operate the economy the way (former president George) Vasiliou did.”

Asked to comment on the row over Prountzos’ qualifications after some quarters suggested his law background may not make him sufficient, Petrides described France’s current finance and economy minister Bruno Le Maire, “as one of the strongest economy ministers in Europe.” Nonetheless, he is a French Literature graduate and in fact writes novels, Petrides argued.

In Cyprus, it was lawyer Giorgos Pamborides that finally introduced Gesy, after scores of ministers before him failed, he added. “This is how modern governments work.”

Asked how he felt leaving his post, Petrides said he was walking away with his head held high and looking forward to time to unwind with his daughter.
The biggest dangers for the economy at the moment lie in external crises, the non-solution of the Cyprus problem, populism, and the political system that is not conducive to change, he highlighted.

Petrides expressed that no matter the outcome of the elections this Sunday, Disy’s role lies in opposition. “I think this will help Disy itself.”

He noted somewhere along the road, the party lost its identity and many started to think and operate under conditions this was a client-centered state.

“The purest soldiers are those who do not ask for anything, not those who believe the party owes them and they should buy their support.”

It is this pure group the party should seek to repatriate and for this to happen, there needs to be some introspection. “There need to be bold changes to the party charter,” that will allow the leader to operate more effectively.

“We need to speak out with trust and realign ourselves ideologically.”