The House plenum on Thursday passed the budgets of four more public-law entities, including the Natural Gas Public Company (Defa) and the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC).

The two other public organisations that had their 2024 budgets approved were the RES and Energy Conservation Fund, and the Digital Security Authority.

The balance sheets got passed in the nick of time, allowing these organisations to resume normal payment procedures. During the months of January and February, organisations whose budgets have yet to get the nod from parliament, can still pay staff under a temporary system known as ‘twelfths’ – 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.

The ‘twelfths’ system expired at the end of February – meaning that if the budgets of these organisations had not passed this month, they would be barred from making any payments and hundreds of employees would have been left unpaid.

To date, 41 out of the 43 semi-governmental organisations have had their budgets passed. The two outliers are the Technical University of Cyprus (Tepak) and the Office of the Commissioner for the Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation.

Given that Tepak’s budget will not get passed by the end of this month either – since the next House plenum is on March 4 – that organisation will likely face a freeze on payments.

Regarding Defa, its balance sheet for 2024 provides for €38.4 million in expenditures and €32.8 million in anticipated revenues.

The House green-lit the Defa budget, but ‘crossed’ certain expenditures relating to legal costs and payments made to experts and consultants. For these amounts to be released, Defa must come back to parliament and justify them.

Meanwhile parliament also approved Defa’s request to hire 36 additional staff.

By law, Defa is the only entity in Cyprus allowed to import and distribute natural gas.

Its revenues for this year derive from a €12 million state grant, plus €20.5 million from the European Union’s ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ for the project concerning the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal under construction at Vasiliko.

The LNG facility is said to be 80 per cent complete.

Regarding state broadcaster CyBC, its budget comes to €39.3 million. Payroll accounts for €26.7 million.

The passage of the budget should defuse tensions at CyBC, where unions had threatened strikes unless the March salaries were paid out.

However, the situation with payment of salaries is complicated by the fact that all CyBC bank accounts have been frozen, on the strength of a court order.