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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 [ Our View: Will the powers that be rise to the challenge? ]

Our View: Will the powers that be rise to the challenge?

AFTER A disastrous 2011, the people of Cyprus fully deserve their massive natural gas Christmas present. Our government, our officials and our politicians do not. And it is a sobering thought that it is they who will decide how our gas revenue is spent.

Even allowing for the view that an electorate deserves the government it votes for, our government and our politicians have failed us miserably. The immoral lack of official accountability over the Mari tragedy, the mishandling of an economy ground down by the long-term cancer of clientelism and a systemic failure to either stand up to unions, or tackle rampant tax evasion, brought home to the public in 2011 like never before that our emperors have no clothes. Our leaders cannot lead us.

The Cyprus Mail went on the streets on Thursday asking the public their views on our Christmas present. Almost without exception, the enthusiasm over the gas finds was tempered by a world weary cynicism over what it really means for our future.

“I’m not so sure everyone will benefit because as usual the selected few will accumulate wealth while the rest of the population will be scrambling for the crumbs,” said one.

“I have no faith in the capabilities of the current administration to handle the issue properly,” said another.

And this is the crux of the matter. There is a belief that whatever benefits reach Joe Public they will pale into insignificance compared to the well-connected few who will squander what should be public wealth by divvying up the spoils between them under the cover of some supposedly vital projects that only they can deliver.

There is an overwhelming array of issues to be dealt with before we have a true picture of what our gas finds mean. The commerce minister speaks of them being worth 100 billion euros but energy experts put the profits at far less once massive infrastructure works and Noble Energy’s cut are factored in.

Without doubt, however, money is there. But what we have to fear is far more than the real likelihood that the Dutch Disease – whereby an increase in exploitation of natural resources is undermined by a decline in other sectors – will take root here. What we have to fear is also more than large proportions of revenue disappearing into unnecessary projects.

Our main fear must surely be that whatever gas wealth comes our way, it will be spent on propping up a rotten state system that allows a bloated public sector and politicians to offer shoddy service for high rewards and fails to tackle tax evasion.

We need a watertight sovereign fund to preserve that wealth for future generations. The models are there aplenty: Norwegian, Qatari and Kuwaiti among others. Do our leaders – both those in power now and those waiting in the wings for the 2013 presidential elections - have the courage to listen to the experts who can tell us how to best manage our find? We await that answer with trepidation. And little hope.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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