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Cyprus president steps up to the plate

President Nicos Anastasiades has announced a range of measures to restore confidence and modernise the state including combating corruption and collusion – and a reform of the Civil Service.

President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (Source: Cyprus News Agency)

President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (Source: Cyprus News Agency)

EARLIER today President Anastasiades presented a package of measures for the modernisation of the institutions and state, assuring the citizens of his determination and that of his government to meet the expectations of the society for a new bold start.

The measures include the introduction of rules of good governance, combating corruption, collusion and established bad practices, promoting meritocracy and egalitarianism, and reforming public administration, with the active involvement of the citizens and a deadline for the implementation of the action plan expiring at the end of December 2013.

Presenting the measures, President Anastasiades said that it was imperative to restructure and modernise the state, and restore the trust of the confidence of the citizens in the institutions and especially in the politicians.

“Concepts, such as meritocracy, good governance, the liability of politicians, the obligations of the state towards its citizens, which were until recently meaningless declarations, today, due to the consequences of the financial crisis, constitute a national necessity,” he said.

The President pointed out that the measures announced today and any to follow would prove that he was sincere, and dismissed allegations based on the Eurogroup decisions that he had defaulted on pre-election commitments, calling on everyone to ponder if they preferred a leader to either be likable or take unpleasant but beneficial decisions.

“I would like to assure the citizens of my determination and that of my government to meet the expectations of the society for a new bold start,” he said.

Referring to the measures, which were discussed by the Council of Ministers, he said that with a proposal to amend the Constitution the offences for which a President of the Republic could be prosecuted are laid out and expanded.

Furthermore, the freedom of speech and the freedom of MPs to vote during their legislative duties, is secured, however their immunity for all forms of offences is lifted.

Criminal and civil liabilities of ministers and independent officers for actions or omissions during the carrying out of their duties will be regulated by law, and the list of officials who should present a statement of assets is expanded, while a special committee will be checking the correctness of the information supplied.

Furthermore, the House has already passed into law that the unanimous findings of investigative committees are binding for the official in question, while the Attorney General, apart from the Council of Ministers, will now be able to appoint criminal investigators.

Regarding good governance and the combating of corruption, the President said tenders awarded should be justified and also publicised, audit committees would be set up at each Ministry to monitor corrective measures for issues noted in the report by the Audit Office, and Ministries and public organisations must present reports on corrective measures noted by the Audit Office, along with the submission of their proposed budgets to the House. Similar measures will apply for municipalities and communities.

It will also be obligatory to keep detailed minutes of meetings in any public organisation or authority taking administrative decisions, and these will be publicised, except in the cases of national security, defence, and international relations, which may be confidential or concern personal data.

The law concerning the authorities of the Ombudsperson is amended, enhancing the institution’s role, and the civil and criminal liabilities of civil servants are set out for damage due to inexcusable negligence or fraudulent behaviour constituting collusion.

Regarding the combating of collusion and established bad practice, President Anastasiades said the provisions of the Constitution and the law would be amended so that it would not be possible to run for re-election to the post of President of the Republic for more than two consecutive terms in office, and the same would apply to mayors and community leaders, while the office of MPs, and municipal and community councillors would be restricted to three consecutive terms.

On meritocracy and egalitarianism, President Anastasiades said there would be criteria for any permanent position in the public or semi-governmental sector, and the boards of directors would be relieved of the responsibility of employing or promoting persons.

Regarding the reform of public administration, he said noted the appointment of a Commission for the Reform of the Civil Service, who would be submitting an action plan within three months, with specific proposals for the reform of the public sector.

Furthermore, the reform of the civil service would be regulated through legislation which will be sent to the House for approval, containing aims, ways to monitor developments, indices to measure the quality and effectiveness of the services, and ways to improve administrative procedures and simplify the issuing of decisions.

Another bill regulates the obligation of public organisations to submit to the Council of Ministers a strategic and operational plan, which will be compatible with government policy.

For the more effective and smooth functioning of the state, a proposal is included for the establishment of a number of Deputy Ministries. The relevant bill has been sent to the House for approval along with a fully justified report, the President said.

President Anastasiades also referred to the active involvement of citizens in policy-making, noting that measures enhancing immediate democracy have been introduced.

Furthermore, Administrative Courts will be set up to decongest the Supreme Court, departments of primary jurisdiction are strengthened, a Court of Arbitration will be established to try cases concerning bonds, a Banking Ombudsperson will be appointed to deal with cases so far of primary jurisdiction, and the state will fully comply with cancellation decisions by the administrative courts.

President Anastasiades said that all proposals should be ready by June 15 at the latest, and that the measures announced on Monday would be effective as soon as the House of Representatives approved them.

The Council of Ministers also decided on April 24 to set up a monitoring mechanism for the government’s programme. The President said the mechanism had already begun work and would be presenting monthly reports.

President Anastasiades said the need for a new model state was also the wish of the political forces, and thus called on them to give priority to the examination of the bills, in order “to jointly create the modern state we owe our citizens.”

Cyprus News Agency

Further reading

Presentation by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, of the Government measures for the modernization of institutions and of the state – 29/04/2013

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Richard says:

    I don’t suppose his ‘cheap words’ are any worse than those coming out of the mouths of those in the E.U who turn a blind eye to what’s going on out there.

    If you endorse corruption – that makes you just as corrupted as the corrupt.

  • @All – I’ve updated the article to include the full text of President Anastasiades’ presentation.

  • Frank says:

    To continue the baseball analogy:

    Cyprus President steps up to the plate. AG pitches him a low knuckleball. Cyprus President holds up and watches it go by. Umpire calls ‘Strike One’. So Cyprus President has one Strike and no Balls.

  • Whirlybird says:

    Bravo!! President Anastasiades, action at last, not I hope empty words. Methinks that this is the last chance that Cyprus has of getting their act together if they do not wish to really go down the drain from the gutter.

    Reorganising the government and associated services are only the tip of the iceberg, the rest of the community should get off its backside and stop being so complacent (when your not) and whingey to others about the price of goods and services, we are all suffering during this period of time and have a lack of cash due to small pensions or lack of work.

    Let the retailers etc. know that their prices are too high and if they don’t listen go elsewhere letting then know it, then maybe the prices will drop a bit more. Do your own thing politely to help the government and the community get back on it’s feet but not at the expense of the needy. Cut out the greedy man. Sorry, this is Cyprus!!

  • Clive says:

    Don’t think he will last much longer as President. Such Anglo Saxon prouncements will strike fear into the hearts of the Judiciary and the Developers. Bring on the new President.

  • Stuart says:

    Even given the benefit of the doubt in his declared intention to combat corruption and collusion, the new President would need to dismantle a fundamentally flawed legal system which, as it stands, can never underpin any attempt to eliminate a culture of endemic dishonesty.

    Not until the entire justice system is rid of its well-documented perversion by those who are responsible for its administration will any foundation of probity be available to support a programme of reformation, either realistic or aspirational.

  • Dee Vickery says:

    Don’t know who is the more deluded……….the President for proposing a sea-change in Cypriot society, or us for thinking he can do it!

  • Martyn says:

    On the face of it anyone any distance from Cyprus could well think these are a reasonable, robust and welcome set of proposals, measures, strategic objectives, good governance proposals and the like. Impressive, almost.

    Those of us ‘closer to home’ might be gaze with sheer wonderment at the long and comprehensive list of actions, codes, techniques, plans, proposals, objectives – and the fact they have been developed and introduced relatively, given all else that has been going on, speedily. And are to be finalised, implemented it seems by December, 2013. Wow, all this in just 8 months, of which 2 are generally regarded as ‘holiday months’

    And then we read Para 5 above : “The President pointed out that the measures announced today and any to follow would prove that he was sincere……..calling on everyone to ponder if they preferred a leader to either be likeable or take unpleasant but beneficial decisions.”

    Personally I’d prefer a Leader who is both: (likeable and ‘take unpleasant but beneficial decisions’)

    But the President has already, it seems, ducked dealing with one blatant act that could very powerfully have underscored all the above. But no, the Attorney General, no less, remains in post despite to most (all?) of us the most flagrant abuse of his position as head of law enforcement in this country. (Gavin J gives the details below).

    And what did the President and his new government do? Precisely nothing. The AG remains in Post, testimony to the very ‘old order’ that the President wants to cleanse.

    worth noting Famagusta Gazette, 11th April:

    “The staggering revelation was compounded after the AG appeared to condone drink driving after he said he had done nothing wrong by helping out his son, because he would have done the same for someone else’s child.”

    Actions, not words, Mr President. That is what the Cyprus communities are promised, deserve. But, it’s not yet too late to take that one Big first ‘unpleasant but beneficial decision’, Mr President : ensure the AG is removed from Office without any further delay.

    Then we can read all else you have to say and support what you are wanting to do!

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    It is interesting that he made this statement one day before the crucial parliamentary vote on the final bailout agreement. Was it a challenge to the all the die-hard Deputies whose corruption helped to get us in this mess? If it’s a No vote today, it will also be a proxy No vote for the President’s anti-corruption drive. Would that then inevitably force him to resign?

    I too am sceptical, not so much about his beliefs and wishes as about his capacity (or anyone else’s) to drive through such a radical change programme in this country. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell (sorry, SoOJB, couldn’t help myself!)

  • Peter Davis says:

    @ Gavin.

    Filibustering is part of the Cyprus psyche, it appears they’re always taking about ‘dynamic action’. As you say “Talk is cheap” and the reality is nothing will change unless circumstances force a change.

    Huckleberry Finn summed it up in one sentence. “Just you saying it’s so, don’t make it so.” As a child he was able to see through the smoke screens and mirrors.

    As I hold my breath I so hope I’m wrong, but somehow I feel things will continue as before.

  • andyp says:

    I remain a sceptic of all things Cypriot.

    No mention of title deeds.
    No mention of reform or a review of the Cyprus Bar Association, especially the Disciplinary Board.

    All sounds good but as we all know very little transpires to law and even if it does such as The Streets and Buildings Regulations, which could have saved thousands of us from our present misery,is never enforced. They even have a Misdescription of Property regulation believe it or not but this has a get out clause attached. What a joke.

    Actions and enforcement and not words are now required.

    Is that a flying pig I see?

  • Gavin Jones says:

    I would like to make particular reference to a section of the second paragraph of this article, namely “…corruption, collusion and established bad practices…”

    Any modern state must possess a judiciary which is devoid of all the items listed above and the present incumbent of the post of Attorney General has fallen foul of all three.

    It was recently and widely publicized that he suspended the case against his lawyer son for being caught driving over the alcohol limit in a vehicle without road tax and MOT.

    In my book, by so doing the Attorney General’s action has not only blatantly perverted the course of justice but he’s also committed the cardinal sins that the President has vowed to stamp out.

    Nothing has so far happened and neither will it. After all, President Anastasiades is a fellow traveller in the legal profession so the maxim ‘talk is cheap’ will naturally apply in this case.

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