Revelations that President Nikos Christodoulides had been collecting a civil service pension, since resigning from the civil service in 2018, aged 45, would have come as a surprise to many. After all, most people were under the impression that, apart from deputies who scandalously are entitled to their fat pension at 60, the earliest the rest of the working population were entitled was at 63 (with a 12 per cent penalty) and a full pension at 65.
The president had done nothing illegal in collecting the €1300 a month pension since the age of 45. He was legally entitled to it as soon as he quit the civil service to become foreign minister. If he had quit the civil service in 2014, when he became government spokesman (instead of being seconded to the presidential palace and technically remaining a civil servant) he would have been entitled to a pension, aged 41. There are another three retired civil servants in the government, drawing this type of pension.
This civil servant’s privilege is enshrined in the Law on Pensions of 1997, which stipulates the cases in which a pension and retirement bonus paid. One of them is: “On the retirement, for reasons of public interest, for the employee to take a public position, incompatible with the office or position he holds.” What is the rationality behind this absurd law? Someone who retires from the civil service to take state office will be paid a high monthly salary, plus allowances, so what is the reasoning in giving him or her a pension before pensionable age?
We can only guess that this absurd provision was slipped into the law by some devious, self-serving civil servants, perhaps at the behest of Pasydy and was approved by the parties without any questions asked. Ultimately, it is the political parties that are to blame for this scandalous privilege offered to civil servants, because it was the parties that approved the Law on Pensions. It was not Christodoulides or the under-secretary to the president Irini Piki who drafted or approved the law.
This is why it is totally hypocritical of Akel making a big issue out of the fact the president is also collecting a state pension. Party deputies have been slamming the payment of a pension as “ethically unacceptable” and “provocative”, especially at a time when people had to cope with a constantly rising cost of living and had difficulty making ends meet.
What is ethically unacceptable is not the president collecting a pension since the age of 45, but that the political parties had approved this scandalous privilege when the pensions bill was tabled in the House. We doubt Akel, or any other party expressed any objection to this provision that treats civil servants as the chosen people.