After the pandemic…four key conclusions
Sunday 7th June 2020, ‘HARAVGI’ newspaper
Article by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A.Kyprianou
Cyprus and our people faced an unprecedented situation in recent months, that is to say the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.
The Anastasiades-DISY government has been claiming for some time that it was fully prepared for the possibility of the existence of coronavirus cases in our country. When these cases unfortunately were recorded, the shortcomings and inability of state structures to confront the situation were demonstrated in all their entirety. This is because the Anastasiades-DISY government’s policies had undermined public hospitals.
The government’s first reaction wasn’t satisfactory. Following the outcry by society and the utilisation of the scientific team (advising the government), decisions were taken to confront the pandemic in a decisive way.
All through this period, AKEL made substantive efforts to address the problems that arose. It made the protection of the public health system a top priority. In addition, in cooperation with the class-based trade union movement, we have given priority to providing support towards working people, those in need, small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed workers. We have also taken social solidarity initiatives. We have compiled a list of AKEL militants and members, which we put at the disposal of the state mechanism to provide voluntarily support towards the vulnerable groups of the population. In addition, the government managed to revise several of its decisions that did not put the many of society at the centre of its attention.
We didn’t just limit ourselves to these actions. We submitted specific proposals on issues relating to health, education, tourism, farmers and the people of culture. We elaborated and put forward positions and proposals for subsidising the economy, households and small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, AKEL tabled proposals for the reduction of rents, the reduction in the price of electricity, for the suspension of loans, as well as for the suspension of foreclosures and evictions, of the payment of obligations towards the state etc.
With the significant help of the team of expert scientists, the superhuman efforts of health workers and professionals, the government’s decisions, the positive role played by the political parties and with the cooperation of the people, it has been possible to put the pandemic under control. Now the Anastasiades-DISY government and all of us must draw the correct conclusions.
Firstly, the role of the state is irreplaceable and imperative in the safeguarding of fundamental rights, such as the right to health, work, housing, education and social welfare.
Secondly, the intervention of the state is necessary in vital and strategic areas of the country, such as energy, communications and transport.
Thirdly, the climate crisis and downgrading of the environment have resulted in pandemics and have had a direct impact on people’s health.
Fourthly, the Cyprus economy cannot be based on circumstantial and fragile factors.
Unfortunately, the Anastasiades-DISY government has proved that it does not understand the criticality of each of these four conclusions that emerge from the pandemic. For more than seven years it has been moving in the opposite direction. It has permitted public hospitals to be undermined. It has been reluctant to provide social services to individuals with its proposals for outsourcing work to private interests. It has attempted to promote privatisations in public utility organizations, to advance policies and projects that are flagrantly damaging the environment and is stubbornly insisting on pursuing the economy’s growth based on the “get rich quick” philosophy and a “bubble” economy.
The pandemic and what we as a country have gone through in recent months must ring a warning bell for the government ruling forces. It must convince them to put aside their ideological concepts, dogmas and class politics. They should realise that their policies do not meet the needs of many. There is a need for radical change, a different policy that focuses on the basic needs of the many with regards to Health, Education, Social Welfare, Housing, Work, Rights and Dignity.
The Cypriot people have, once again, made a lot of sacrifices for the common good. The time has come for it to feel that its efforts and sacrifices have not gone in vain. This will only happen if there is a change in the policies that are being implemented in recent years in Cyprus. AKEL will lead the way in this effort.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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