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Our View:  Endless commissioners are worthless but well-paid posts

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Mountain communities consider the appointment of a commissioner an imperative

Deputies at the House commerce committee criticised the government for the delay in appointing a Commissioner of the Development for Mountain Communities. The post had been vacant for more than a year – since September 2022 – but deputies were told that the president would appoint someone within the next two months. The delay had been caused because the government was evaluating the institution of commissioners. Presumably, it concluded that the institution should be preserved.

It is a shame because most of these positions have little or no power and appear to have been created as well-paid jobs for the cronies of the president. Not even the president who appoints the commissioners takes them very seriously. For example, the ludicrous post of Commissioner of the Citizen has also remained vacant for a while, and nobody has noticed. There is a Commissioner of Audit, Complaints and Supervision of Gesy, who has no authority either to audit or supervise Gesy. The Health Insurance Organisation has systematically refused to provide him with information he had requested.

Meanwhile, the Law Commissioner has been complaining because a law officer who left her office in January 2021 was not replaced and neither was a clerical assistant that left in June. No arrangements for staff had been made for her office in the four years she has held the post, she said. The funniest thing of all is that there is no legislation defining the role and responsibilities of the position – a bill has been gathering dust at the legislature for the last year. In short, the commissioner has been paid for the last four years to perform a job for which no legislation exists.

And now, there was discontent in mountain communities, according to a Disy deputy, because they consider the appointment of a commissioner an imperative. An Akel deputy said the mountain communities had been abandoned by the state, left on their own to deal with the many problems they faced. The 256 actions for the mountain communities, drafted by the previous government and worth €400 million have been put on hold, although the timeframe for their completion is 2030.

Do these actions need a commissioner to be implemented? Even if there were a commissioner, would the plans not have to be made by the relevant ministries and approved by the cabinet? What does the commissioner add to the process? The same could be asked about the Environment Commissioner, who has been in the post for years and nobody hears from. There is the Environment Department, which handles most environmental issues, making the role of the commissioner redundant.

The president was right in wanting to evaluate the institution of commissioners, even though he wasted no time in creating a new post soon after his election – a commissioner for gender equality. We doubt this evaluation will lead to any changes, because the commissioner is a popular post – well-rewarded and with minimal responsibility.

 

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