The government decision to set up a committee to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Greco report, on fighting corruption, suggests that someone in the cabinet has a sharp sense of humour.
If the government was an individual, it could be said that it was engaging in political satire and self-mockery in setting up this committee. It has set up another committee to oversee the committees, which Greco, the Council of Europe’s group against corruption, said was a reason for the ineffectiveness of anti-corruption legislation.
While commending the strong features in Cyprus legislation, the report said “its effectiveness is compromised,” by among other things, “the proliferation of committees with little coordination, resources, expertise and authority.” So, the government has decided to tackle the reason for the ineffectiveness of the law – the proliferation of committees – by setting up another committee to ensure the law is implemented.
According to the government spokesman, this committee will cooperate with all other bodies (committees?) dealing with corruption and keep the council of ministers informed about things. Its members will include the head of the delegation to Greco, and representatives of the presidency, the justice ministry, the anti-corruption authority, and the foreign ministry. Meanwhile, the justice minister and chief of police will monitor the implementation of Greco recommendations on law enforcement bodies and report to the cabinet.
Why is a committee needed to ensure anti-corruption legislation is being enforced? Could there be a better indication of government unwillingness to take responsibility than the setting up of committees? It would appear President Christodoulides is creating new tiers of government to pass the executive’s responsibilities on to them.
This is similar to the body set up at the presidential palace under the under-secretary to the president to monitor the work of ministers and, supposedly ensure that the government programme was being implemented. The implication is that President Christodoulides does not trust the ministers he appointed to implement government policy and has set up a committee to supervise them; or perhaps he has just passed on presidential responsibilities to the under-secretary to the president, because he has no time or desire to deal with the nitty-gritty of government. He is after all out of his office most of the time attending social events and making speeches.
The president it seems is a committees’ man. Having been a civil servant all his professional life this may be the only way in which he is comfortable operating. Civil servants are notorious for avoiding responsibility and are much more at ease operating as part of a committee. This could well be the reason Christodoulides sees the setting up of a committee as the answer to all the problems facing government.