Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides on Wednesday welcomed the withdrawal of a request for overtime pay by deputy government spokesperson Doxa Komodromou, in what was the first time ever that overtime pay was requested for a state official.
In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), the AG said that the request was inadmissible in nature, which was also confirmed by the preliminary audit of the information collected by the audit office.
“We therefore welcome the withdrawal of the relevant request,” he said, adding that the audit continues for remaining persons.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Minister to the President, Irene Piki told CyBC radio that the government had withdrawn its request for a budget to cover the overtime of those seconded to the palace.
In an earlier post shared by Michaelides, the audit office said it has launched an audit following a finance ministry request for more funds concerning the remuneration of employees seconded to the presidential palace.
The audit concerns first a control of compliance with regular hours (swiping a card) and then documentation of overtime employment, the audit office explained.
In parliament on Monday, a presidency official requested the release of €51,795 for Komodromou to cover her salary plus overtime for the period from March (when she got the job) to December.
This was the first time that overtime pay was being requested for a state official. In her capacity as deputy government spokesperson, Komodromou is designated as such.
The presidency official argued that Komodromou’s case was ‘special’ as she had chosen not to resign her position at the University of Cyprus. So on her appointment as deputy government spokesperson, Komodromou was seconded to the presidential palace on the stipulated salary for that position – €65,292 gross a year.
Michaelides had flagged this months ago, and in a letter to the president called the arrangement unlawful. Citing the law governing secondments of public-sector employees, Michaelides said Komodromou may be dispatched to the presidential palace but on the salary she was receiving from the University of Cyprus – far lower than the €65,292.
Addressing this point, the presidency official told MPs that the president had complied with the auditor-general’s advice, and that Komodromou’s salary was reduced to what she used to get at the university.
But, the official added, Komodromou was now working many more hours than she used to at the university – including afternoons and evenings – and so should be entitled to overtime pay.
Unconvinced, MPs held back from releasing the funds. They will discuss the matter again next week in a session to which the auditor-general has been summoned for his input.
During the discussion, members of the committee also heard about other employees earning overtime, including First Lady Philippa Karsera’s office coordinator, who was seconded from state broadcaster CyBC.
The finance committee was also asked to approve funds to hire a further 12 seconded civil servants to the presidential palace, to make up a team to monitor the government’s work.
There will be no budgetary burden from the secondment of twelve officials from public and semi-governmental organisations to the secretariat for monitoring the implementation of the government’s programme, Piki said on Wednesday.
She said its creation was part of the government’s plan and is similar to practices carried out in other countries.
She said, under her wing, the secretariat will not judge or control ministers but monitor and coordinate the implementation of the government’s programme and reforms.