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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-11-10

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Auditor highlights 'endless list of irregularities'

THE SUBMISSION of the Auditor-general's annual report to the president was given extensive coverage. As every year, the report found that state services were responsible for many irregularities, poor planning and the squandering of public funds.

Haravghi noted that the list of "irregularities, illegalities and scandals which continue to blight the public sector and semi-governmental organisations" was endless. At the same time, there was a "glaring lack of political will, on the part of the executive to impose to principles and values of sound government", which was evident throughout the 358-page report, it said.

The report noted a series of irregularities, which were repeated every year without the government showing the least bit of interest in putting them right. Hundreds of examples were cited and these "confirmed the malaise prevailing in the public sector".

Politis took the same line, saying that "for years the auditor-general's office has been revealing cases involving the squandering of public money and has been suggesting the adoption of specific measures." But nothing was being done. The Auditor-general, Chrystalla Yiorkadji, noted the weakness and lack of planning for big projects, with the result that costs soar while these were in progress.

In the report, the plan for the northern conveyor belt was mentioned. The planning for the project began in 1995 and it was abandoned after 723,000 pounds had been spent. Then there were the water works in Xylourikou for which preliminary work had been done, at a cost of 237,000 pounds, before it was decided that the project was not viable.

Simerini highlighted the lack of internal control systems at ministries and government departments, and noted one example of overspending. The amount allocated for government purchases, 6.5 million pounds, had been exceeded by 3 million pounds. It also mentioned great delays in the collection of income tax, with companies and individuals delaying making payments.

The paper quoted Yiorkadji as saying that several of the suggestions included in the annual report were being adopted by departments. She admitted there was an improvement in internal control systems as far as department accounts were concerned.

Machi focused on the amount of overtime being paid to government surgeons. It said there were 24 surgeons who had earned 10,000 pounds in overtime while, for some, the overtime pay reached 25, 000 pounds per year. Thirty per cent of operations at state hospitals were carried out at times during which overtime was being paid.

In another front-page story, the paper said that the Akel leader Demetris Christofias' intention to stand in the next presidential elections has caused internal bickering at the party. The main reason for this is that Christofias, who will stand as an above-party candidate, has already chosen who his successor will be as party leader. It claims it will be International Relations secretary Andros Kyprianou.

Alithia reported that the Cyprus government would be faced with a big dilemma over what to do when it was invited to participate in Cyprus talks on November 29 - the paper is convinced that President Clinton will announce the resumption of talks after his visits to Athens and Ankara.

The government is concerned that the talks would be a parody of a dialogue, aimed at persuading Greece into backing the EU candidate status of Turkey. The government's concerns will be discussed at President Clerides' meeting with Greek PM Costas Simitis in Athens on November 20.

Phileleftheros reported that, just a few days before President Clinton's "historic visit" to Greece the climate in Athens was becoming heavier. Apart from the mass demonstrations being planned, which were of concern to both countries, disagreements had emerged over the agenda of Clinton's talks with Simitis.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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