Opposition MPs on Monday pushed back against the government’s request for unlocking some 400 new jobs in the central government and the broader public sector, warning of runaway payroll spending.
The matter was discussed at the House finance committee, with lawmakers reviewing the government’s latest request to open up 397 positions of first appointment in the public sector.
This comes after earlier in the year parliament had green-lit a previous request for unlocking 1,850 positions. That en masse creation of first-appointment jobs in the public sector had been approved by the cabinet on April 12 – just a little over a month into the administration of Nikos Christodoulides. Most of the positions slated for unlocking had, however, already gotten the nod prior to the elections.
Disy MP Onoufrios Koulla accused the finance minister of giving out mixed signals – on the one hand voicing concern about the increase in public payroll, and on the other making additional requests for public-sector jobs.
The deputy stated categorically his party would not approve this latest request.
Taking questions from MPs, an official with the Public Administration and Personnel Department said of the 397 jobs in question, a minority (70) of the new positions were decided recently but the rest concern positions that had been included in the 2023 state budget submitted by the previous government.
Of the 397, 298 concern filling positions in the central government, and the other 99 relate to public-law organisations and municipalities.
Sixty of the requested 298 jobs in the central government are for the finance ministry, 61 for the agriculture ministry, 26 for the transport ministry, 19 for the interior ministry, 22 for the junior ministry for welfare, 17 for the junior ministry of research, innovation and digital policy, 11 for the defence ministry, seven for the energy ministry, four each for the ministry of justice and the junior ministry for culture, and six each for the ministry of foreign affairs and the labour ministry.
The rest of the 298 relate to judges, the attorney-general’s office, the auditor-general’s office, and agencies like the Personal Data Commissioner.
Of the 99 new jobs for the broader public sector, 85 are for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, and 14 for the municipalities of Famagusta, Larnaca, Paphos and Strovolos.
Parliamentarians asked the finance ministry to provide more data about these positions as well as a calculation of how far these hires would impact state finances.
The committee will revisit the issue next Monday, when it will likely take a decision.