Is the government supporting or undermining the Cyprus Electricity Authority?
Article by Nikos Gregoriou – General Secretary of SIDIKEK- PEO.
Sunday 26 June 2022, ‘Haravgi’ newspaper
The recent letters of response from the relevant Ministers of Finance and Energy to the trade unions organised in AHK raise serious questions as to the government's current policies and objectives on energy issues.
The first and unavoidable question that arises when government Ministers make such highly contradictory and paradoxical criticisms of AHK is this: whose policies have been implemented on energy issues for the past 9½ years? Isn't the government responsible for ensuring that there is a comprehensive and coherent energy strategy and therefore be politically accountable for it?
The government needs to explain what it is seeking by blaming AHK when it itself had appointed the Boards of AHK and they are accountable to it. It must explain exactly when it has established that there is “inaction” at AHK and what it has done to stop it. It must substantiate what specific actions should have been taken and were not taken, and whether this '”inaction” is continuing.
I note that the term "inaction" is a tool used to create those fait accompli and dysfunctions that gradually (sometimes slowly but surely) lead to the paralysis and eventual takeover of public institutions by selling them off at bargain prices to private interests.
The Ministers' replies were based on the trade union’s finding that AHK is not adequately staffed, which makes it difficult for AHK to operate, DRIVING it to decline, in the sense that it tends to become inefficient and unable to respond to its needs and role.
Is this not where there is real inertia/delay, if not “inaction” noted? As both the Board of Directors of AHK and the government are well aware, this is not the first time that the workers of AHK have raised this issue. There have been a several letters in which they have sounded the alarm over the last three years.
The attempt to control AHK's operating costs is understandable, just like any other organisation in the wider public sector. But is that in itself the point? Alas, if it were. The issue must be, and I hope it is, striking a balance between containing operational costs and the correct functioning of AHK. Otherwise, there will not be the necessary human resources to cope with the growing needs of AHK, and necessary projects that have already been planned and approved for funding will simply not be able to be implemented.
The fact is that if the efforts for adequate staffing of the past years had been addressed by all those who had the responsibility on the correct basis, then perhaps this exertion of pressure (in terms of time) to meet the need for immediate staffing would not exist today.
Therefore, when the government announces a ten-year development plan, it must take into account that it is not enough to set timetables and find the spending for new projects to implement it. It is essential to ensure that the human resources needed to plan, design, build and operate the projects are available.
Finally, on the issue of the reduction in electricity prices, an attempt was again made to put the blame on AHK. The government's arguments are politically contradictory. I point out an orchestrated attempt to shift the responsibilities of the government itself for its failures on energy issues and its piecemeal and ineffective management of the recent crisis elsewhere. In addition, this simply reinforces our conviction that the government's plans to privatise AHK when conditions permit it were never abandoned.
For SEDIKEK -PEO, there is no question of supporting the dismantling of AHK. We support AHK as one of the most respected organisations in our country and we call on the government, the Board of AHK and all relevant state bodies to take those necessary actions that will enhance AHK’s consolidation and modernization so that it is fully effective in the fulfilling crucial and pivotal role it has to play on energy matters.
Any thoughts of gradually and indirectly undermining AHK in order to sell it off to private interests will find us once again resolutely opposing such efforts. After all, it has been proven that the conditions and facts of Cyprus cannot withstand any experimentations with privatisation, if one takes into account, in addition, that a large part of it is a natural monopoly.