NICOSIA — Cyprus’ president has scrapped plans to grant free-of-charge, around-the-clock use of state-financed luxury vehicles to top civil servants amid a public outcry over a perceived waste of taxpayers’ money, a government spokesman said Monday.
Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said in a statement that President Nicos Anastasiades instructed the Finance Ministry to withdraw the decision after taking note of concerns that use of the vehicles would extend beyond the civil servants’ official duties, to activities like family excursions and shopping trips.
The decision to grant vehicle use to officials including the permanent secretaries of government ministries was made following a deal with trade union officials to gradually re-instate the privilege that was cut amid fiscal belt-tightening following a 2013 financial crisis that nearly bankrupted the country.
Pelekanos said the financial cost for such use would have been “limited” because the state wouldn’t have purchased the vehicles.
The decision had angered Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides who had posted on his Twitter feed that he considered it “scandalous” for civil servants to use a “state limousine for family trips.”
“The mindset of having the civil servant as a burden on the back of citizens instead of being their servant must be fought passionately if we would like a healthy civil service and a healthy state,” Michaelides wrote.