The cabinet on Wednesday decided that committee will be formed under the undersecretary of the president to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in the latest report of the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (Greco).

This was decided even though the Greco report issued last week criticised the numerous committees overseeing corruption in Cyprus for failing to coordinate with each other.

“While the legislation has some strong features on paper, its effectiveness is compromised by institutional flaws including the proliferation of committees with little coordination, resources, expertise and authority,” the Greco report said.

On Wednesday, announcing the creation of the committee, deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou said it would monitor the Greco recommendations on government which emerged from the fifth evaluation done by the anti-corruption body.

This committee will cooperate with all the other involved bodies and will inform the Council of Ministers at regular intervals.

According to Antoniou, the committee will be comprised of the head of the Cypriot delegation to Greco, a representative from the presidential palace, a representative from the justice ministry, one from the anti-corruption authority, and one from the foreign affairs ministry.

He added that the cabinet has empowered the justice minister and police chief to monitor the implementation of Greco’s recommendations on the law enforcement bodies. The minister will report back to the cabinet on progress.

“The cabinet also adopted a code of ethics for the members of the government,” he said.

Antoniou added that the accountant-general, the permanent secretaries of ministries/deputy ministries, and the head of administration of the president’s office will be informed on what the code contains for the procedure of accepting gifts as members of the government.

“The code of ethics was prepared, following the orders of the president and the law commissioner, while for its preparation all recommendations of the Cypriot representative to Greco were taken into consideration,” he said.

He added that the Code of Ethics, includes guidelines for members of the government, defines conflict of interest for the member of the government or in relation to a person who is connected to the member, and regulates the acceptance of gifts and hospitality by members of the government.

According to Antoniou the code also introduces a system of adequate monitoring and compliance with the provisions of the code, with the possibility of taking measures in case of violation.

He added that it “provides for the appointment of an independent ethics advisor to exercise advisory duties to the president and the members of the government”.

“We believe that the aforementioned code is an important step towards good governance, while any need for its revision, given that it arises through its empirical application, will be properly evaluated, in order to ensure its further development and effectiveness,” he said.

Asked by the press to comment on what else besides gifts is mentioned in the code, Antoniou said: “A specific amount is defined up to which a gift that a member of the government can receive, and the limits are actually set, and a specific reference is made to what is considered a gift and the way in which this gift is obtained.”

Meanwhile, the House institutions committee heard on Wednesday that the head of anti-corruption authority and Transparency Commissioner Charis Poyiadjis will meet with the president’s undersecretary Irene Piki.

Poyiadjis and Piki are scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the recommendations in the Greco report for the authority, which stated that the anti-corruption body is understaffed.

The committee examined the 13 recommendations of Greco on the prevention of corruption in the central government.

Poyiadjis referred to two of the recommendations, which relate to the operation of the anti-corruption authority, while Piki, who also participated in the meeting, referred to the government’s actions to respond to the recommendations, stating that a code of ethics for officials was approved earlier in the day and that the establishment of an ad hoc committee to control the implementation of the measures is proceeding.

According to what Poyiadjis, the anti-corruption authority has eight staff, of which only one is permanent, while the rest work in the authority on secondment from other agencies or on contracts. He added that it is important for the authority to be able to choose its staff, so that they enjoy absolute confidence. He noted that so far there have been no incidents of the authority’s documents being leaked, but it should be ensured that such a thing does not happen.