MPs on Monday gave a preliminary green light to the 2024 budgets of six semi-governmental organisations, due to go up for a vote to the House plenum later this week, but said they’d ‘cross’ – or mark as pending – the funds in those budgets allocated for farming out services to the private sector.

The six semi-governmental organisations are the Human Resources Development Authority, the State Scholarship Foundation, the Public Audit Oversight Board, the Fiscal Council, the Council for the Registration and Control of Contractors, and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation.

Lawmakers complained that out of the 43 semi-governmental organisations (SGOs), so far only 11 have submitted their 2024 budget to parliament.

And to date, parliament has passed the budgets of just two SGOs – the Central Agency for the Equitable Distribution of Burdens, and the Turkish Cypriot Properties Fund.

The remaining 41 SGOs that have yet to submit their budgets for fiscal 2024 are currently operating on the so-called ‘twelfths’ system – where only a sum equivalent to not more than one twelfth of the budget appropriations for the previous year may be spent each month for any chapter of the budget. This provisional appropriations system applies until February.

Akel MP Andreas Kafkalias said his party and the Greens will jointly table an amendment during the upcoming House plenary, by which parliament will ‘cross’ those funds in the SGO budgets that relate to outsourcing services.

This will apply to all SGOs, he clarified. It will apply to any services procured by SGOs from the private sector, be it from individuals or companies.

Their concern, said Kafkalias, is that increasingly SGOs are farming out key services to the private sector. Also, some of these funds are substantial.

Whenever an SGO wishes to have these ‘crossed’ funds released, its representatives must appear in parliament and make a request, which MPs will consider on a case-by-case basis.

However, said Kafkalias, because parliament does not wish to interfere with the smooth functioning of SGOs or their development plans, this increased budget scrutiny will be ‘waived’ for the first three months of the year. That will allow the affected SGOs to come to parliament and argue their case, also giving MPs the time to consider the requests for releasing the funds in question.

For his part, Greens MP Stavros Papadouris complained that this is the third consecutive year that SGOs are late in submitting their budgets.