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Our View: Was the creation of the new deputy ministry needed?

House Plenum, parliament, plenum
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The parties unanimously approved the bill for the establishment of a deputy ministry for migration on Thursday. This will be the seventh deputy ministry set up in the last few years and the second set up by the Christodoulides government, which also created the deputy ministry of European Affairs.

All parties agreed that the establishment of the new deputy ministry was a necessity as migration had become one of the most serious problems facing the country, with Cyprus having the biggest number of irregular migrants, as a percentage of its population in the EU. And according to Frontex the number of arrivals is forecast to rise this year.

During the debate, all the pro-government parties praised the government’s migration policy which in the last year saw a 37 per cent reduction in arrivals, a 46 per cent reduction in asylum applications and the reduction of the time needed to examine applications to three months. Cyprus also had the highest number of repatriations in the EU, it was said.

All these commendable achievements of the last year were the result of the policies pursued by the interior ministry. Given this success, the creation of the deputy ministry for migration seems unnecessary. The interior ministry’s departments dealing with migration and asylum had done a very good job under Minister Constantinos Ioannou, so what was the point of breaking them up and placing some of them under the newly created deputy ministry?

Dipa deputy Marinos Moushouttas claimed during the debate that the establishment of the deputy ministry was a “dire necessity” and while praising the government’s record on migration, he was certain the new ministry would achieve even better results. He did not explain what he based this optimism on. In fact, there is a danger that by the time the deputy ministry is up to speed (Ioannou said it would take two months just to set it up) things might move backwards.

The fashion for deputy ministries, started by the previous government and fully supported by all the political parties, could cause more problems than are solved in the medium term. Parties support these because they create more public posts for their people and potentially more public service jobs which everyone is after. At present, public servants are moved from ministry departments to the deputy ministries, but how long will it be before more public service jobs are created for the needs of the new ministries?

When the deputy ministry of culture was set up under the previous government, the education minister advised that it should apply to the finance ministry for the opening of more positions. Given how things work in Cyprus, it could only be a matter of time before the deputy ministries start complaining that they are understaffed and need more workers.

In the end, we will have reduced the number of municipalities and mayors and increased the number of ministries and ministers. Again, the lack of measure and perspective of our politicians will cost the taxpayer dearly.

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