The arrogance of power and complete disregard for the taxpayer’s money was evident in the government’s request to the legislature for the release of €51,795 that would cover the pay, including overtime, until the end of the year, of the deputy government spokesperson Doxa Komodromou.

The request was blocked by deputies because no state official has ever been paid overtime. No government has ever paid ministers and other state appointees any overtime, even though their working day is longer than eight hours and they usually work seven days a week. This has been the practice ever since the establishment of the Republic, but the Christodoulides government has tried to change this, for the benefit of Komodromou.

Although the position of deputy government spokesperson commands a gross annual salary of €65,000, the government could not pay this amount to Komodromou because she wanted to keep her job at the University of Cyprus. According to the law, as she kept her post in the public service, she could only be seconded to the presidential palace on the salary she was being paid by the university, which was less than half what she would get as deputy spokesperson.

The government decided to get round the problem and make up the difference on the salary through the payment of a huge amount of overtime. A presidential palace official arguing at the legislature said that Komodromou was working longer hours than she was at the university, including afternoons and evenings. While this was a valid argument, there are rules, which Komodromou knew about when she decided to accept the post without resigning from her university job.

In Cyprus, governments routinely bend the rules in order to satisfy individuals. Why should President Christodoulides not do this for Komdromou, when for his predecessor, Nicos Anastasiades, this was standard practice. Lowly-paid public employees who were seconded to the presidential palace saw their salary soar, even though this was against the rules. But Anastasiades did pretty much whatever he liked and his successor – despite pledging change – is following this shabby example.

After the criticism from parties and media, the government has given up on the plan to supplement Komodromou’s salary through overtime pay and the presidential palace will seek the advice of the state legal service. What kind of advice is it looking for, given that the law is very clear – a seconded public employee is paid their public service salary. Is the government seeking advice from the state legal services on how the bend the rules lawfully?

What kind of example are governments setting with this behaviour? When the government has no qualms about bending the rules and makes no secret of this, is it any wonder many citizens show scant regard for the laws?