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Will the ‘new broom’ sweep clean?

Will the new president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, persevere and carry through the essential and, in some cases, radical changes that are needed for the country’s recovery and long-term sustainability?

A new dawnTHE NEW government of President Anastasiades entered office having to deal with a potential financial collapse and a myriad of interconnected problems associated with Cyprus’s sovereign debt, solvency, GDP, a new economic model and competitiveness.

During crisis management mode, saving the ‘patient’ from imminent death has naturally been the first priority. However, disaster recovery and business continuity usually need to start even while a crisis is still bubbling and there have been encouraging signs of this.

There is little evidence that this government is trying to prevaricate or avoid tough decisions and actions by blaming external imposition of suffocating timetables or unbearable terms and conditions. Thus far, this does appear to be a ‘can do, will do’ regime.

The question is: will the President persevere and carry through the essential and, in some cases, radical changes that are needed for the country’s recovery and long-term sustainability?

Many of these changes involve the elimination of systemic cancers within the body politic, the public sector, the legal profession and particular sectors of the economy.

For example, will President Anastasiades be the long-awaited saviour who will clean up corruption? Will he be the one to finally clean up the Cyprus Property Scandal?

Put Corruption Back in its Box

It was gratifying to note that soon after taking up office the President announced his intention to require every public employee to sign up to a personal commitment to honesty, integrity and transparency in their conduct. Presumably this will make it easier to dismiss public employees who fail to honour that commitment.

Even while the bail-out and bail-in furore was raging during March, his officials announced that meritocracy based on objective performance criteria would be introduced into the evaluation of all public sector employees. Further, the recruitment and selection of public employees would be based solely on objective criteria and appointments based on political, family, gumbaros or other corrupt rusfeti relationships would be banished.

The above initiative would be a major step forward in eradicating the all-enveloping ‘corruption of the spirit’ so evident throughout the public sector.

Polis Polyviou described this corrupted spirit so vividly in his official 2011 report on the Mari disaster.  To avoid other disasters in Cyprus (and not just those involving major hazards; was he being prescient about the potential bankruptcy of the government and banks, perhaps?), Polyviou advocated a compelling need to effect radical change in society, government and institutional life away from nepotism, clientism and corrupt patronage. This would necessarily include:

  • Transparency throughout government and the public sector and in its dealings with the public. Lack of transparency is high on the UNCAC and GRECO lists of corruption indicators.
  • Depoliticization of professional activity, of public sector staffing and of selection processes and criteria. Cyprus needs to dump its 1960 world-view of normalcy and efficacy determined by tribe, political party, nepotism and rusfeti.
  • A determined anti-corruption programme along the lines of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which Polyviou advocated specifically. An ICAC, such as that long-established in Hong Kong and elsewhere, would have the mandate to investigate allegations of corruption made by any person (not just the police or the Attorney General) and prosecute individuals where appropriate.
  • Tackling corruption on a broad basis, so that it includes corrupt practices between companies or individuals which are against the public interest and not just those practices which involve public officials.
  • Recognition that all forms and levels of corruption must be eradicated: petty, grand, sovereign and spirit.

An early start has been made already on this task list. It has yet to be decided whether an ICAC will be set up but, if and when it is, where would it begin?

Normally, the police force has to be examined first, and cleansed if necessary, as it is essential for law enforcement itself to be devoid of corruption. This would also have to extend to the office of the Attorney General, the judiciary, the Bar Association and its members and the Disciplinary Board in view of their close connections with the administration of justice and the obvious potential for corruption.

With an effective ICAC, corrupt individuals who are prosecuted should expect to do jail time. The ICAC in Hong Kong, for example, has a long ‘scalp list’ of senior government officials and very powerful business people who have gone to jail for lengthy periods. A senior Hong Kong lawyer, who previously had been Attorney General in another country, was jailed for perverting the course of justice.

There is no ICAC in the UK but nonetheless there too politicians, senior officials and big business leaders have been jailed for bribery and other forms of corruption.

Will President Anastasiades have the backbone and fortitude to drive through his fledgling anti-corruption programme to completion in Cyprus?

Cyprus Property Scandal is Still Live

In January 2007, in a Risk Watch article entitled ‘Who Will Clean the Augean Stable?’ I suggested that  it was then already ‘far too late for the government, the developers and the rest to put a convincing PR gloss on the colossal mess they have created for Cyprus’ in relation to the scandal of withheld title deeds and property fraud.

Collectively, I referred to the perpetrators as ‘white collar gangsters’. Very little of substance was done by the previous government to rectify the state of affairs. Indeed, ministers and their officials kept asserting that the scandal was a myth and the product of evil external forces and the international media.

When such a ludicrous position became unsustainable, they admitted there was a problem with non-issuance of title deeds and resorted to a plan in 2010 to clear the backlog of 130,000 non-issued deeds.

Unfortunately, the plan had barely scratched the surface of the backlog by the end of 2012. Moreover, by then Cyprus was heading for bankruptcy and had been forced in June 2012 to apply for an EU bailout.

The Troika (EU, ECB and IMF) which evaluated Cyprus’s debt position noted, in its memorandum to the Cyprus government of the required actions, that while exposure to Greece’s debt problems had been instrumental in the crisis for Cyprus banks, many of the latter’s problems were home grown and related to over-expansion in the property sector as a consequence of the banks’ poor risk management.

Further, the memorandum required the government by end of quarter 4 of 2014 to ‘eliminate the title deeds issuance backlog to less than 2,000 cases’ that remained pending for more than 1 year.

While the Land Registry offices may be able to become more efficient to achieve this issuance target, it is quite another proposition to transfer those deeds issued to developers to their rightful owners – the buyers who have already paid for the property in full. Non-discharged developer mortgages as well as the developer’s unpaid taxes are a real stumbling block to transfer that many buyers are facing.

The Inland Revenue appears to be supine in forcing developers to pay their outstanding taxes, while the banks seem terrified of getting developers to service their loan and mortgage debts.

Under the eagle eye of the Troika technocrats, the banks, who for years have had a lax lending policy towards developers, will now have to take action on developer Non-Performing Loans.

If developers are unable to service their loans or discharge their debts, the prospect of developer bankruptcies followed by ‘fire sale’ disposal of repossessed properties looms much larger. But, in this economic climate and a flat property market, will there be new buyers even for apparent bargains? And, what about all those existing buyers, mainly foreigners who have paid in full and never been a party to the developer’s mortgages but nonetheless find themselves the victims of attempted bank liquidation, as in the Liasides collapse and other cases?

Effective government intervention in this matter is not only urgently needed but failure to render it would amount to complicity in what has been described as sovereign corruption. This is an early test of President Anastasiades’ commitment to clean up Cyprus. How could he achieve a rapid clean-up of the title deeds mess?

One obvious major action would be the establishment of a ‘bad bank’ specifically for developer debts, along the lines of the already successful National Asset Management Authority (NAMA) set up in Ireland in response to its EU bailout problems. This would prevent developers going bankrupt while protecting the interests of property buyers and the state’s finances.

Such a proposal was put (by CPAG) to a previous Finance Minister Mr Sarris several years ago, as well as other influential parties since then, but ignored. Will President Anastasiades and his new Finance Minister Mr Georgiades act decisively on this now to prevent the total destruction of the property sector?

About the author

For over 30 years, Dr Alan Waring has been an international risk management consultant with extensive experience in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His next book Corporate Risk & Governance will be published in May 2013 (http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409448365). Contact waringa@cytanet.com.cy

©2013 Alan Waring

First published in the Financial Mirror

Readers' comments

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  • Spirit of Odd Job Bob says:

    Hi Denton,

    Glad you recognised your quotes!

    Whereas I’m sure I was not the only one to (correctly) deduce what was going to happen in Cyprus, I’m afraid that I’m not 100% convinced on the, “Most of us who use this site foresaw” bit. Nor on the “developing mess will lead to disaster… was commonly shared by many” bit. However, I’m sure if you articulate a proper argument, set a boundary on it and list your assumptions, we’ll be convinced you are not just posting one possible scenario…

    I must admit, you got me reading up on your confident claim that HDL is rubbish in certain areas. I arrived at this article (Scientific Logic and Method), which even I had to admit is cool. However, before my head exploded, I had to question the benefit of getting mired in hypothetical intellectual debate when the present question is simply, “Who should we believe on what is likely to happen next?”

    Again, going back to the sad world of investment banking, even though, “Past performance is no guarantee of future growth, the value of your investment can fall as well as plummet”, one would be pretty stupid to put your money with a Fund Manager whose track record is in the toilet; an industry “star rating” is based on past performance, for Pete’s sake! However, we know that even a 5 star fund with a great 5 year track record CAN screw up (for so many different reasons it’s untrue!). So you pays your money and you takes your choice.

    I do take on board though the Einstein point (World citizen no.1? OMG, I’ve agreed with Richard yet again. Aaarrgggh!), “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong”.

    Back to Cyprus; OF COURSE I’m expressing an individual opinion! People can take it or leave it or simply ignore completely: we’ve all been granted free will here! If you’re waiting for a “universal truth” before getting your behind off the fence though, I reckon you’ll be waiting a long time…

    For all those who’ve done the right thing financially here, with or without ever hearing of OJB, FANTASTIC STUFF! If, though, OJB (and I!) have helped in the slightest with anyone making the right decision and keeping their hard-earned dosh safe, well, you’ve yourself one happy ghost!

    Penultimately, hubris, pride before a fall and all that. From the OED: “Noun: Excessive pride or self-confidence, (in Greek tragedy)… Excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis”.

    Which actually ties in with your idea of “universal truth”, I suppose (as only the Gods know the truth and you deserve the inevitable smiting you’re gonna get etc). I stopped believing in the Boogie Man years ago…

    And finally, I believe that folk on this forum with more of an expertise in certain areas than others should ADVISE others what to do (WE, and I include YOU in this cos you seem to know a thing or two), can analyse the poo out of any situation to show how clever we are, finishing off with a “Only time will tell..” but, if we are too terrified to express an opinion on what to do about it, to offer advice, for fear of maybe being wrong, then what the %#*! use is that to anyone?

    “Action is the true measure of intelligence”.
    Napoleon Hill

    PS. Man, we sure are a clever bunch here!

  • Richard says:

    It seems to me (and others) there is a logical / analytical (IQ) argument here and a people-emotional-hope-faith-behaviours (EQ) argument.

    On the IQ – as to whether any ‘model’ is to be respected – surely – isn’t that part of the problem? Models were stretched to breaking point when all the clever guys leaving various academic institutions in the 1990’s (who used to get jobs in defence companies) suddenly got paid a lot more to hose their skills into workstation keyboards to come with ‘star wars’ for the global finance industry. These models haven’t worked too well in the hands of countries who have the cream of the ‘talent’. When involving countries with considerably less talent – what was to expected? Put a hammer in the hands of excited baboons – and you won’t have to wait long for damage.

    On the EQ – this is the slumbering giant. If I can propose No2 in the series ‘people who really deserve mankind’s respect’ (No 1 being Albert Einstein) – as Nelson Mandela. Incarcerated for years – he finally get’s released. If he’d been Greek Cypriot would he have realised that to undertake massive reprisals was NOT the route to a better solution for his country? Doubtful – if he’s been Greek Cypriot – he most likely would have started a war on anyone who’d been in any way even remotely responsible for his incarceration. But thankfully for South Africa – Nelson Mandela had developed the brain and thinking of a true world citizen – and merged IQ & EQ perfectly around what needed to be done.

    So – Albert’s elevated thinking, Nelson’s capacity for forgiveness and re-building his country a different way = success.

    If the ‘lizard brains’ embedded in the Republic of Cyprus don’t change – they will continue to screw up every opportunity put their way – every one. Not one of them will ever bring them peace and prosperity because if the wiring loom is wired incorrectly – sooner or later – it will always short out.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @SoOJB. Entertaining stuff, as always. But your supposedly hypothetico-deductive argument overall does not stack up. Most of us who use this site foresaw as you did the financial demise developing 2-3 years ago and took appropriate action. Your reminders gave no one much excuse for not getting their money out in time, with the exception of property buyers caught in the trap of no deeds and no buyers. The ‘developing mess will lead to financial disaster’ model as a hypothetico-deductive model was commonly shared by many, including those who have never heard of OJB.

    Hypothetico-deductive logic HDL (Kuhnian science) is well suited to mathematics, finance and the hard sciences. However,as a self-confessed former banker(?), when you step out of that arena and apply it to politics, military strategy, culture, power relations, psychology and other ‘soft’ sciences, HDL does not work well at all. HDL has a very poor predictive record in those areas. When you state ‘I’ve been testing my theory against all new developments and it’s come through with sparkling colours’, we cannot judge whether you are justified in that statement as, beyond a collection of assertions, you have not articulated a proper argument, you have not set a boundary on it and you have not listed all your assumptions. In stating ‘I know what I am saying’ about these matters, you are merely positing one possible scenario among many.You have expressed an individual perspective, not a universal truth. Why should we place more confidence in your statements than those of others?

    Beware infinite variability of response. Beware bounded rationality. Beware wild card events. Beware hubris.

  • Spirit of Odd Job Bob says:

    Without wishing to be too boring, the standard scientific answer to the question “If correlation doesn’t prove causation, then what does?” is (with some caveats), “causality can be inferred by well-designed, randomised controlled experiments” (basically testing). So, for the past 3 years, I’ve been testing my theory against all new developments and it’s come through with sparkling colours!

    The latest revelations about New Broom Nico are so totally underwhelming as they just follow the curve. So too will the attacks against foreigners as Cyprus is in denial (have you heard the latest, “They’ve manufactured the whole “crisis” so they can get our hydrocarbons?”. And you thought I was crazy!); the dramatic increase in violence due to the Russian retaliation (you don’t steal from the Russian mob and expect to get away with it) and the TOTAL ineffectiveness of the EU (a pretty decent fellow once described them as, “an organization no longer fit for purpose but dangerously continuing to con EU citizens into believing that it has real power and the intention and will to use it to protect them”, who are EVEN NOW relaxing all their stringent bail-out criteria for many countries (if it were so important in the first place, why relax it now?) Indeed, as another (or was it the same?) very clever man once said, “Admission of the existence of a problem and its scale, dimensions and causes is the first step in its resolution”. Couldn’t agree more.

    Many like to comment on this forum saying stuff like: “We’ll see what happens”, “I doubt if blah blah has such and such effect” and “We can only hope, time will tell”, but where else do you get (pardon the expression) the balls-out, straight up predictions than with good old OJB (and his ghost)? And they have (so far) all been correct. The curve has spoken, pay homage to the curve!

    With regards to solutions, my argument is certainly NOT “the patient is incurable” and has not changed one tiny jot (and, horror of horrors, I actually completely agree with Richard on this one): “THE SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS (in Cyprus)… CANNOT BE SOLVED AT THE SAME LEVEL OF THINKING WE WERE AT WHEN WE CREATED THEM”.

    No “conventional” solutions will work (for many reasons previously stated). I think another shrewd chap called it the “Joint Criminal Enterprise” of Cyprus. As stated, the only possible solution is the drastic one: REGIME CHANGE, which may just happen if the patient tries to play the Geo-Politics Game (Round 2) (i.e. flirting with the Russians and putting the fear of God into the Americans that the US base of AKROTIRI – no, I know what I’m saying – plus the listening facilities at Agia Nik, will be put in jeopardy). The curve suggests they will.

    The patient IS curable, but if even the very first steps to resolution will not be taken, if “corruption is at the heart of society”, the “soul of Cyprus has been lost” and “the fish stinks from the head”, then not only does the patient have to be pretty close to death before he’ll be willing to take the medicine, but he’ll have to have his feet and most of his organs, including his very head, transplanted as well!

    So, in the meantime, if one had taken my advice, you’d have NO assets in Cyprus, you’d be either living outside the country or, if in the country, you’d be living in quite a nice rental property for a pittance, you’d have access to your funds held abroad via an ATM, you’d have dyed your hair black so as not to look German and be just enjoying the sunshine and swimming in your pool (while dodging the Russian bombs and bullets). Alternatively, you could be staring at losing all your life savings in a property that doesn’t belong to you and praying for a miracle.

    Nullum est tam caecus, qui non viderunt

  • Gavin Jones says:

    I think that Alan Waring and Denton Mackrell are the two last great white hopes.

    I spent 20 eventful years in Geordie land and in these situations they say the following:

    “Bob Hope, Westerhope (a suburb of Newcastle) and nee (no) hope.”

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    SoOJB tells a good tale and indeed it all has good ‘face validity’. However, his comparison with the ‘best line fit’ method etc, even if the graph looks right, does not in itself prove causation only correlation. I suppose it comes down to whether it is necessary to prove what the underlying causation of this mess is first or whether we are forced by crisis to apply solutions soonest based on correlation (mostly assumed rather than demonstrated). Almost certainly the latter. But SoOJB’s argument appears to be that there ARE no viable solutions as the sick Cyprus patient is incurable. Whenever I hear the ‘never’ word, I reach for my revolver!(paraphrased from H. Goering). Dum spiro spero.

  • Richard says:

    Good article Alan. I’m not altogether sure that in cleaning up this mess – you can really rely on anyone connected with the banking regime that created it. It falls into the general category of “all previous incumbents need not re-apply”. Or – as I’ve used in the past – “THE SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS THAT WE FACE CANNOT BE SOLVED AT THE SAME LEVEL OF THINKING WE WERE AT WHEN WE CREATED THEM” – Albert Einstein.

    At best – you will have a slightly watered-down version of the previous toxic cocktail – at worst – new entrants hideously manipulated into something even worse.

    The root cause appears to an increasing number of people waking up to the fact that bank ‘loans’ are often just ‘digitally created funny money’ secured against gambling-fuelled fluff. When the loans are hiked up and trumped up with all sorts of additional charges – making them unsustainable – they pursue tangible solid physical to acquire to ‘settle’ them. It’s the crime of the millennium – and it’s simply unsustainable in the long term unless we all eventually want to go back to the Sheriff of Nottingham ruling over serfs.

    Cyprus has reared it’s ugly head as the most visible example of just how bad people within the system can behave and think they can get away it. It’s certainly not the only country with ‘banks behaving badly’ – that’s for sure. They are however – the most blatant – that IS for sure.

    As for this all other ‘noise’ about how it’s always been and how it’s always going to be – it’s nonsense.

    I spent nearly quarter of a century in technology. A great deal of what we take totally fore-granted today – was unimaginable and unthinkable back in the 1960’s. Moore’s law changed everything – and built technology platforms that made it all possible. Exactly the same opportunity exists to reform banking and with it – traditional western capitalism with it. Even – dare I say – the little old island of the Republic of Cyprus.

    I (and increasingly thousands of others) are facing derision and dissent for even making these comments. Bring it on – it means people in these regimes are becoming more afraid that their cosy clubs of criminal activities are slowly – but very surely – becoming exposed to the light of truth.

    Trouble is too many people are sheep. As the problems become worse though – it’ll be a case of “wake the flock up”…

  • Spirit of Odd Job Bob says:

    A serious question was asked, so an attempt at a serious answer will be given.

    We used to do this thing in maths whereby, in order to establish a relationship between various co-ordinates (or “events”), we would plot a line which impinged on the most number of co-ordinates. We would then try to define a formula for that line and so doing, be able to extrapolate so we would know which co-ordinates that line would go through next.

    Simply put, if pretty much all the past events were consistent with our formula (or theory), then what we believed was happening actually WAS happening and so we would be able to predict what would happen in the future. As I’ve not been overly shy about pointing out that ALL OJB predictions have been correct, I’d say the original theory was absolutely spot on.

    So, I agree with half of AndyP’s analysis on why the Cyprus “property” system is as it is:

    1) Greed, absolutely!
    2) Stupidity absolutely NOT! Completely the opposite, in fact…
    3) No-one else matters (half agree). Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribalism which states: “tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group”.

    So, if we examine the original theory (i.e. the top chaps in Cypriot society saw the entry into the Eurozone as an opportunity to borrow huge sums from Eurozone banks at really low interest rates, say it was for property construction without ever really intending to build much of sufficient quality to live in, if build at all, then disappear with the money from loans and sales, enriching themselves and their “tribe” significantly, with the vague idea that the country would be alright, even though it didn’t really matter, as Cyprus was too important to NATO to allow to go to sh#t), we can go over ALL the events that have happened over the last say 5 years, as well as what is happening now and try to see ANY inconsistency between these events and the theory.

    It wasn’t stupid people who conceived this. Not by a long chalk.

    So, in answer to Janner’s question: there IS no advantage for the State and the Banks running a property system like this, but for the individuals, the “tribal chiefs” who inhabit the higher echelons of state and of the banks, there is plenty.

    Right, back off to Kourion try to find some more ancient scroll fragments…

  • andyp says:

    @Janner

    Greed,stupidity and a total belief that no one else matters.

  • Janner says:

    Does anyone actually know what the advantage, to the state and banks, is of running a property system the way the Cypriots do. The system is a mess and I can’t see the advantage. Maybe someone from the government can enlighten me!

  • Pippa says:

    Having just read the reports about what the government is going to do to restart the economy I can only say there is no hope that things will get better. 900 more jobs in the public sector, employing more teachers – Oh please!!!

  • Spirit of Odd Job Bob says:

    Final fragment from the Book of Alashiya (must go to look for some more…)

    “In the days after the Great Winds from Brosella swept away Depositor Confidence from the paradise of Alashiya, in much the same way as does a new broom, during the dynasty of the Enemy of Corruption and Nepotism: the good and incorruptible Pharaoh Nico the Notifier (Cypriot president ‘warned his friends to move money abroad’) the maligned Sons of Albion, cast into the wilderness, did split into many warring factions.

    And from these factions rose: The Analysts, who could identify a problem but offer no solution, The Pragmatists, who could propose a solution, the Optimists, who would say all would be better and wait for someone else to propose a solution, The Pessimists who believed all were doomed, The Fatalists who thought the solution would find itself and The Surrealists, who believed the solution was a fish.

    And it came to pass that, overcoming their differences, the Analysts and Pragmatists and Optimists managed to propose a solution that would end the suffering of their brethren caused by their fleecing by the Sons of Alashiya.

    And the solution was good.

    But these Sons of Albion knew that for the Title Deeds to be released for their pieces of Alashiya, the Mount Olympus sized debt – of ever-shifting size as of the sands of Canaan – would have to be written off or recapitalised, so any solution would require a Distribution Of Secure Holdings from a solvent country (or DOSH).

    And the new Pharaoh did issue a proclamation, committing all Sons of Alashiya to Honesty, Integrity and Transparency (as had ALWAYS been the case amongst the Sons of Alashiya, surely?).

    And this proclamation was good.

    However, Nico the Notifier so too did realise that for the Usurers of Alashiya to be recapitalised, for the Mount Kilimanjaro sized debt – of ever-shifting size as of the sands of the Gobi – to be written off or for the Pharoah(ship?) to be able to pay its workers or even to maintain essential services, any solution would also be dependent on the holy DOSH…

    And, the governor of the PEurozone, Pompous (Euro) Pilot-scheme (new punctuation!), so too did propose a solution.

    And this solution might have been good, but was notably short on detail.

    But Pompous (Euro) Pilot-scheme also knew in his heart that for any solution to work, for the Alashiyan Usurers to be recapitalised, for the Mount Everest sized debt – of ever-shifting size as of the sands of the Sahara – to be written off or for their lenders to be even partially re-imbursed, all against a backdrop of rapidly fleeing shekels from the PEurozone (large holdings only) the whole PEurozone would require the all-powerful DOSH.

    But Pompous (Euro) Pilot-scheme had none.

    So, helmet in hand, PEPs did approach the Wise and Terrible Moneylenders of the North: the Dreaded (and pragmatic) Sons of Teuton, whose coffers had verily grown fat by hardly paying any interest on their borrowings during the whole PEurozone crisis. And they did cry out, “Oh Sons of Teuton, we beseech you to introduce Eurobonds! Please make available sufficient funds to the European Financial Stability Facility, so we can finance the very good plans of Nico the Notifier, whose country has changed beyond recognition and is now a well-oiled and trustworthy testament to management efficiency and good governance, of all the other much larger PEurozone lands in need, of the Analysts and the Pragmatists and the Optimists of Albion suffering in Alashiya! BE the lender of last resort so we can continue to squander thy hard-earned DOSH! DO NOT walk by on the other side!”

    And the Dreaded Sons of Teuton did reply, “Du bist having a laugh, mate! Ve haber an election to win in September and wasting even a teeny weeny under-schnitzel of DOSH on you will be a vote loser. And besides, when you do crash, we have been saving our pennies so VE BIST ALRIGHT, Hans!” And they didst clutch their sides in mirth and snigger like it was going out of fashion.

    And the piles of solutions were scattered by the wayside, where they did grow in size like the mountains of…”

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Great article that presses all the right buttons, but the new broom, aka the politician formerly know as Nice Nick, will only get the job done if it is ridden by the white witch of the North.

    Then something good, fair and just may be wrote here on this sceptred isle.

  • Stuart says:

    @Gavin.

    You quite rightly question the integrity of an Attorney General who also, in 2008, was instrumental in quashing a 30-day prison sentence for a Paphos lawyer jailed for persistent disqualified driving.

    Will the two Cypriot leopards ‘Nepotism’ and ‘Patronage’ ever change their spots…? I think not.

    A corrupt legal system can never underpin any attempt to eliminate a culture of endemic dishonesty.

  • Martyn says:

    Excellent article asking all the right Questions. All the signs are the new President will try, try hard to ‘clean up corruption’, sort out the massive overhang of serious problems stemming from the Property scandals, restructure the country’s financial institutions, get rid of the Attorney General who makes a mockery of ‘Justice’.

    But the omens are not good: ‘tries hard but could do better’ might be a summary of his government’s first 2 months in office. The original Haircut proposals were ludicrous, the almost casual proposal to sell of Cyprus’ gold reserves doubtless contributed to some extent in the recent sharp falls in global gold markets. And there’s still the ‘Cyprus’ problem to resolve, with the Turkish north already wanting their ‘share’ of the gold, and any future MedGas revenues!

    Crucially, it’s going to take more than one ‘committed’ government, one truly outstanding Leader to sort out the unholy Mess that is today’s Cyprus; along with Greece the country can probably be classed as one of the new ‘Sick men of Europe’ – is there a Thatcheresque leader who can, long-term, lead/unite the country, turn things around?

    The odds against are very, very l-o-n-g and like everyone else we can but Hope!

  • Andrew says:

    So, once again we are told of the obvious and well known faults that are killing Cyprus. If the new government does not know of these ills or can not read about them to learn and understand, I suggest we do as ‘Janner Says’ below, send them all the reports, reviews and await 28 days for action. If no or little action, assume the status quo, koumbari.

    The truth is, the only way to correct the ills of Cyprus is via Troika keeping their size 18 boot firmly on the neck of
    Cyprus for about the next 5 years.
    I see no other way.

  • Peter Davis says:

    Get real, this is Cyprus.

  • andyp says:

    I could not agree more and hope for the best although I would suggest that Cyprus does not require a new broom but rather a Dyson, or similar.

    Remove all developer debt from sold properties, mortgaged by the buyer or not, and transfer them to “Bad Bank”.

    Give people their deeds and raise some cash.

    Pursue all developer unpaid debts and sell everything they own to reduce these debts whether or not their other assets have been put up for security or not.

    Sack bankers who authorised the continual turn over of unpaid debt and made stupid investments to their Greek brothers, who in reality do not give a toss about Cyprus.

    Remove the licenses of any lawyer who advised a buyer to purchase a mortgaged property.

    Assess the value of unfinished developments and those of merit/value should be finished and used for social housing which will be required in the near future. Demolish the remaining blots on the landscape.

    I can dream but if real change does not happen now it never will.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    So many relevant and searching questions but will the Cypriot citizenry, and non-Cypriots who either live or have interests in Cyprus, ever receive the answers and justice that they so badly need?

    Despite being hurled in at the deep end with a collapsing economy, I feel that the new President has so far sent out mixed messages. For example, he publicly said that the public sector would not be touched, he had a go at the Eurogroup and has now made this puerile passport offer to ‘compensate’ those who’ve stand to lose money as a result of the haircut.
    On the plus side, he’s been decisive about actually getting on with the bailout/bail-in, has revoked the post of Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and has removed the boss of DEFA.

    However, one glaring blot on the landscape is the Attorney General who has made a mockery of the law by openly admitting that he intervened to suspend the prosecution of his lawyer son over traffic violations. It’s generally agreed that this man has to be removed but Anastasiades is a lawyer: say no more. Without the rule and enforcement of the law, no modern state can function and the track record in Cyprus of late hasn’t exactly been exemplary.

    In short, the jury’s out but on past record the omens aren’t all that positive when it comes to high-minded goals such as transparency being realised.

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

  • Janner says:

    Send the new government some of the reports (in case the previous administrations lost the last ones) and ask them to comment within 28 days. Should be fairly easy to find out what their intentions are. If you don’t receive a reply then you know they are the same as the previous governments!

  • Frank says:

    Dr Waring continues to ask all the right questions; as he has done previously. Sadly, just across the page from this erudite article, we have Nigel’s latest ‘Have Your Say’ poll. It demonstrates the opinions of the oft-disappointed property buyers in Cyprus. Currently, 73% of voters are hoping to be wrong but have had their faith destroyed by previous false dawns: amnesties, Gordian Knots, etc. Only time will tell if this new dawn is also false.

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