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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ The whingeing of civil servants is shameful ]

The whingeing of civil servants is shameful

CYPRUS has probably the biggest public sector, as a proportion of its population, in the European Union. It is a monumentally inefficient sector that eats up more than half the state’s annual revenue as its employees receive substantially higher salaries than workers in the private sector, who work longer hours, are entitled to fewer holidays and even fewer of the benefits. With a level of job security that protects even the most indolent and incompetent employees from the sack, free healthcare for life and a princely pension after retirement, it is no wonder that the majority of Cypriots are clamouring for entry into this privileged club of workers.

Perhaps the taxpayer, who generously finances this social injustice, would not have minded it so much if he received a good service from the state sector. But the truth is that we receive a pathetically poor service for our money, characterised by indifference, incompetence, long delays and bad manners. Some state services, adding insult to injury, go out of their way to make life difficult for businesses and individuals who have dealings with them, not to mention the slapdash way in which they implement government policy. We are receiving a lousy service, for which we are paying premium rates; if there was any form of competition the state services would have closed down by now.

It is no coincidence that now, people who want their mail or parcels delivered promptly will use the services of private companies even if it means paying more than they would pay for using the postal service, a model of inefficiency and bad organisation. This is also why private secondary education is one of the fastest-growing and most profitable sectors of the economy. More and more people are sending their children to private schools because they do not trust the state education system. They consider the service provided unsatisfactory which is why demand for places in private schools has been soaring. When there is competition, the state will always lose out because the service it provides is exposed as second best.

It is in this context that the hysterical opposition to the Cyprus University’s decision to accept students from private schools by the secondary state school teachers union should be viewed. The union fears that once the university doors are opened to private school students, there will be more competition and eventually there will be fewer places for graduates of the state system which is plagued by falling standards. But rather than examine the reasons for the falling standards in order to stop the decline, the teachers’ union are determined to block the possibility of comparisons with the private sector, for obvious reasons.

As long as all places at the Cyprus University are reserved for state school students, their teachers will not have to raise teaching standards as there will be no competition for places with private school students. All graduates who apply for state teaching jobs can still be hired indiscriminately, general educational standards can continue to fall and teachers can continue to exert minimum effort in carrying out their jobs. After all, the state sector is renowned for offering a lousy service, why should state schools be any different. The general thinking is that because state education is free, mediocre standards are acceptable, and as long as all places at the university were reserved for state students, there was no real incentive for improvements.

It is not only in the education sphere that our society is being let down by unmotivated, under-worked state employees, aware that their fat salaries will be paid at the end of the month, irrespective of how they perform their responsibilities. The state health sector is testimony to bad management, marked by long waiting lists, malfunctioning essential equipment that takes months to repair, shortages of essential hospital items etc. Again, all the people who can afford to pay for their healthcare use private hospitals and clinics rather than subject themselves to the poor service.

At least in health and education there are alternatives, if someone can afford them, but what about the management of water resources, which has always been the exclusive responsibility of state departments. True, the politicians have a large share of responsibility, for failing to build more desalination plants, but had the senior state employees, who are paid to manage water resources, performed their duties with a degree of competence, we would not be in such dire straits today.

The list of cases of how badly we are being let down by under-performing and over-paid state employees is endless, but nobody seems remotely interested in raising standards and offering citizens a tolerable level of service. On the contrary, state employees, like the teachers, do everything in their power to defend the right to offer citizens a lousy service.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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