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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Head boy let kid cabinet off from attending budget debate

Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades
Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades was finally sent to the House, so the cabinet could be represented by at least one member

THE MEMBERS of the cabinet always seemed like a bunch of schoolkids given too much freedom by the head boy, who is more interested in showing off to the adults than taking any responsibility for governing Kyproulla himself.

Last week they showed they can also behave like a bunch of schoolkids, naughtily refusing to attend the mega-boring debate on the state budget at the legislature. Not one of them showed up, all of them preferring corporal punishment than having to sit through hours of mind-numbingly tedious speeches and pretending they were interested in the cliches regurgitated by the party leaders.

You can’t really blame the poor kids. Some of the budget speeches could be used for psychological torture in war conditions.

Even the excuses provided for playing hooky en masse were pretty school-kiddish. Mini Me, who looks like the perfect schoolkid, claimed they did not show up because there was a council of ministers meeting. The meeting was held in the morning and had finished long before the debate started at 4pm, but as far as lame schoolkid excuses go it was pretty convincing.

Meanwhile the more cunning school bully, Victoras, came up with a better excuse. Their absence was the result of non-coordination and the heavy workload (too much homework). Even more childish was that of Dipa windbag Marios Garoyian – too much traffic on the roads.

 

A COUPLE of hours after the start of the debate, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades was sent to the House, so the cabinet could be represented by at least one member. He sat on his own, in the area reserved for the ministers, looking like a boy waiting to be seen by the headmaster for punishment.

Attending the debate was a big sacrifice for Vafeades because it meant he was unable to take his dog for its evening walk, a duty which, to his credit, he unfailingly performs.

Grown-up governments of the past would have all the ministers at the state budget debate. It probably started out as a form of punishment imposed by a sadistic president on his ministers to remind them of their place, and over the years became a respected political tradition.

The head boy is obviously too nice and humble to take any sadistic pleasure from torturing his mates for a few hours, forcing them to listen to Junior, Sizo and Garoyian hero-worshipping him.

But what was his enforcer, the strict schoolmistress, Irini Piki doing? Is it not her responsibility to supervise the ministers and impose discipline so they do not behave like naughty schoolkids? There were no calls for her resignation.

 

THE OLDEST of them, who poses as the finance minister, Makis Keravnos exposed his delusions of adequacy on the Trito radio show on Friday when he said he did not know how the soaring public payroll would be brought under control and would ask experts to tell him.

When the presenter asked him whether the public payroll would be rationalised by job cuts or pay cuts, he said he did not know and must be left to the experts to answer. He had written to organisations about preparing a study on the rationalisation of the public payroll and a firm would be chosen to provide the answers Keravnos has no clue about in the new year.

Can there really be another way of bringing the rocketing public payroll under control than reducing parasite numbers or cutting pay or both? And does the finance minister really need to pay experts to tell him this? Keravnos knows the answer, but in typical schoolkid fashion he avoids responsibility, preferring that the grown-ups he calls experts to tell us the bad news.

 

WHAT was even more schoolboyish was Keravnos’ attempt to make out that the 15 per cent increase in the public payroll was not his fault. It had nothing to do with the man in charge of the finance ministry, who is supposedly responsible for ensuring sound public finances.

“We identified the public payroll as an inelastic expense which, if it continues (to grow) at this rate, will reach worrying levels,” he told the radio show. So why as finance minister did he allow this inelastic expense to grow by 15 per cent? Was he following the orders of the generous head boy or was he merely following the advice of experts?

 

IN MITIGATION, he could claim that working for the head boy whose sole aim is to please and having Red John as the labour minister stopping the waste of taxpayer’s money is impossible.

Red John, rumours suggest, has taken the role of government communist, satisfying every union demand, in the hope that Akel might consider him as its presidential candidate in 2028. Last week he delivered an increase in the minimum wage, a year after it had been set, as union bosses had ordered.

He also defended his ministry’s calculated delays in processing applications for the hiring of foreign workers (seven months minimum wait), by repeating the union claim that there were unemployed Cypriots that had to be given priority by businesses. Nobody told him that Cypriots do not do low-status, crap jobs unless these are in the public sector and grossly overpaid.

 

KYPROULLA must be the only state in the world that in the age of digitalisation and e-government keeps hiring more pen-pushers and paper shufflers. It is a bizarre way of the prez carrying out his election pledge to digitalise the state.

Only the other day, at the Citizens Service Centre, a citizen wanting to transfer car ownership was told she needed to provide the original insurance cover note as she had one that had been emailed to her. The stroppy officer serving her said the cover note could be faxed by the insurance company. The government is still in the age of the fax and does not recognise emails.

The insurance company had no fax machine but offered to send the cover note by messenger pigeon, which apparently is still accepted by the state services.

 

AFTER his big dick entry at the UN reception at the Ledra Palace, Ersin Tatar was cut down to size like a naughty schoolkid by his own headmaster Tayyip Erdogan when he visited Istanbul last weekend.

According to a report from the north Tatar had been summoned to Istanbul at short notice to be given a presidential dressing down for repeating his demand for a two-state solution too often and too vociferously. How accurate this report was nobody really knows, but it seems very unlikely Erdo has rediscovered his love for bizonal, bicommunal federation.

The only thing the Tatar was prepared to say after the meeting was that Erdogan had not invited the Greek Cypriot head boy to Ankara, as had been reported in the Greek Cypriot media. There was no mention of the alleged dressing down, which is understandable, but if he tones down his two-state rhetoric in the coming days we will know that it happened, because nobody dares to disobey Erdo.

 

ARCHBISHOP Georgios urged the faithful to wake up from their “national lethargy” in his Christmas message which also made a passing mention to the faith, in its call for resistance to the heathen occupying our lands.

He tried to guilt-trip all those who go to the north, stay at stolen Greek Cypriot hotels, travel through Ercan airport and strengthening the pseudo economy. He also censured those who “sell off” their property to the occupation force, saying they were “debasing human dignity, prone to personal humbling and national humiliation.”

Like all true patriots, the archbishop would rather Greek Cypriots gave up their property in the north for free, because the patriotic mob, to which he belongs, has made sure they will never ever return to it.

 

SPEAKING of personal humbling, I think the Disy chief Annita Demetriou did exactly that when she ratified the charmless deputy Nicos Tornaritis as the party’s mayoral candidate for Nicosia. The guy operated as a fifth columnist in the party during the elections, backing the candidacy of the Nik II rather than that of his party boss and now he will be the mayoral candidate as his reward.

The rumours are that he was imposed as candidate on the party by Diko with which Annita wants to cooperate in municipal elections. But Diko was probably acting on instructions from Nik II, who wanted to reward Tornaritis with a high-status public post for his loyal support during the elections. And the blonde played along with them.

 

GOVERNMENT gloating about the activation of the president’s grandiose proposal for the creation of a sea corridor for humanitarian aid to Gaza, peaked last Monday, after reports that the RFA Lyme Bay set off from Kyproulla for Israel carrying 80 tonnes of aid.

Why we were gloating is unknown. The aid was provided by Britain, it was taken by a British ship and escorted by ships of the royal navy. Our only contribution was that it set sail from Kyproulla. Anyway, a week later the ship has still not arrived in Israel, but there was some good news for the head boy from New York early on Saturday.

The UN Security Council approved a resolution calling for large-scale delivery of aid to Gaza, although it stopped short of specifying that the Kyproulla-Gaza sea corridor would be used to deliver it. Our corridor marketing campaign needs to be stepped up if our president is going to get some recognition for his initiative.

 

IT WAS ONLY fitting that the feelgood story of Christmas was provided by Prez Nik II, who became godfather of an aeroplane on Tuesday. In a heart-warming ceremony at Larnaca airport, Nik christened an Airbus A321neo aircraft, belonging to SKY express, ‘Kypros’.

The godfather took great pride in the fact that his new godchild is environmentally friendly featuring a 23 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions per km. At the christening he said efforts to improve our air connectivity were continuing, as part of the government drive to fight climate change.

 

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