The government has lost its composure and is attacking the opposition parties
Statement by the General Secretary of AKEL A.Kyprianou
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 20th May 2020, Nicosia
I want to express my sincere regret because the government has lost its composure and is attacking the opposition parties in a way that, in my view, is provocative, in actual fact attributing ulterior motives. I want to remind the government ruling forces of what they were saying when they were in opposition, which they must respect twice as much today when they are in power. This is what they were saying back then: “Mr. Demetris Christofias, former General Secretary of AKEL, must understand that in a democratic state, in a country that is a member of the EU, he cannot operate like the Central Committee of AKEL, where the Secretariat takes the decisions and the Central Committee of AKEL endorses and applauds. The temple of the Republic, namely Parliament, has every right and obligation to exercise parliamentary control and the right to approve and reject, but also to table amendments”. So this view, which they were expressing when in opposition, they have a duty – I repeat – to respect twice as much today, when they are in government. Of course, I want to remind you that ruling DISY party never implemented what it was saying in opposition when it came to power.
As for the procedure itself, I just want to say some simple things. They didn’t consult all the political parties. What guided them was their need to form a parliamentary majority. As for AKEL, they completely ignored us. Since the 23rd April meeting at the Presidential Palace when they stated they would be consulting with the parliamentary parties in an effort to reach a consensus, they haven’t approached us – until 8th May that is when they brought the relevant bill to Parliament.
Secondly, they are the ones to blame for the delay. It took them 40 whole days – when they withdrew the bill for the first time – with the huge mechanism which the Ministry of Finance has at its disposal, to prepare their proposal. And even up until at the last moment, with regards tourism and the issue of rents, they hadn’t submitted a proposal. It was tabled after 8th May. They wanted Parliament – without seeing it – to approve their bill. This is unacceptable for the smooth running of democratic institutions in our country.
Now, as to the substance of the matter. Let me say that this discussion isn’t just going on in Cyprus, which we as AKEL at least sought to have in Cyprus. It is taking place across the EU. There are many right-wing political parties that govern EU member states that are adopting basic principles of the philosophy, which we submitted to the government since mid-March with our written proposal. What did our proposal say? Something very simple. That is to say, small businesses should have been supported using a fund that would amount to somewhere between €200-300 million. For the larger SME’s, what we were saying was that the government should have taken on the responsibility to grant them loans – not to give money away to them, as the government is trying to imply today – at low interest rates that would safeguard their operation because they didn’t have the possibility to borrow from banks.
Furthermore, we were saying that if the state takes on its responsibility and supports the backbone of the Cyprus economy, namely the small and medium-sized enterprises that make up 96% of the Cyprus economy, then we would not be against state guarantees for loans to big businesses through the banks. That was the proposal we had tabled. This is the view that, I repeat, is even supported by right-wing governments in the EU. We therefore wonder why the government was annoyed by this view that we had expressed.
We are being told that it is with the money of third parties that we wanted these actions taken. But the government had included in the first bill an amount of € 250 million to subsidize interest rates. It did not include this in the specific bill. It also calculated that it would spend 1.32 billion Euros because we would have been in a lockdown until 12th June. Businesses started operating on 4th May. Others will start operating on 21st May. Large amounts will be saved from that 1.32 billion Euros. So the money that the state calculated it would allocate to support the economy was enough to implement our proposal.
Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that even if the government’s proposal was adopted as submitted by the House of Representatives, we have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it could not have supported the economy because it couldn’t have been implemented in practice.
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