During Wednesday’s session of the House ethics committee, disagreements surfaced regarding Disy’s proposal for the disclosure of donors and donation amounts to the social support fund managed by First Lady Philippa Karsera.

Operational since 2014, the fund aims to provide support to students from low-income families.

Members of Disy, Akel, and independent MP Alexandra Attalidou expressed support for the proposal. However, MPs from Diko, Dipa, and independent MP Andreas Themistocleous opposed it, aligning with the Karsera’s stance, who said that new transparency measures could hinder the fund’s operations.

She stressed her commitment to transparency and accountability, but questioned the urgency of changing a system she believes is functioning well. She also highlighted the need to protect the fund’s capacity to support students without unnecessary constraints.

Karsera then explained that donor transactions are managed by the Central Bank, with the fund solely responsible for processing applications. She clarified that there is no anonymity for donors and voiced concerns that publicising donor information might deter contributions, ultimately limiting resources for student support.

Cyprus’ accountant-general Andreas Antoniades supported Karsera’s view, saying that publishing donor lists could negatively impact the fund’s mission. He also noted that any donor wishing to disclose their contribution can already do so via the fund’s website under social responsibility.

Representatives from the legal service and labour ministry echoed concerns about violating donors’ privacy if their information is disclosed. A representative from the office of the commissioner for personal data protection added that while a donor registry could be maintained, publicising it might pose risks.

The debate saw heated exchanges, notably between Akel’s Irini Charalambidou and Diko’s Panicos Leonidou, as well as between Disy’s Nicos Georgiou and Antoniades.

Georgiou claimed that an inquiry sent to Antoniades on April 17 about donation details had not been answered, while Antoniades countered that he had responded on April 15.

The committee agreed by majority to amend the initial proposal to require disclosure of donations above €5,000 instead of €500. The revised proposal is expected to be submitted to the plenum for a vote soon.

After the session, Karsera said she is confident that parliament will prioritise the welfare of students over political interests.