Intense debate on the future of state telecoms workers in the event of a new, privatised company to replace the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA), continued at a session of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades assured lawmakers that any staff that will not be absorbed by a proposed “CYTA LTD”, will he said, be used in other areas of the public sector to cover existing needs.
Georgiades said studies have already been carried out which have found that there are 1,462 vacancies in the relevant sectors, against a total of 1,649 workers in CyTA, adding that it is the duty of the state to tap into its existing resources to cover its needs.
“It will not bring about any change in employment, in line with the proposed bill. Those working today will work tomorrow, the salary they get today, they will take home tomorrow,” said the Finance Minister adding that “there will be no change to employment in the slightest, based on the proposal that we have put before you. No matter whether it is paid for from the large state budget or from individual budgets which are also part of the public purse. They are state employees,” Georgiades said.
The idea is for the creation of a new private company, called “CYTA Ltd”, which would see the transfer of telecommunications operations and assets belonging to the current state-owned CyTA to the proposed private-law company.
Privatisation of CyTA was one of the government’s main obligations in return for the €247 million final instalment of bailout money.
At the last House Finance Committee session on CyTA, on 22 February, the Finance Minister Harris Georgiades had urged lawmakers to approve the bill by the beginning of March, ahead of the expiry of Cyprus’ adjustment programme, something which has not materialised.
Georgiades has warned that rejecting the bill will put Cyprus in a negative light among ratings agencies and international markets.
However, the majority of MPs are not inclined to vote in favour of the bill if amendments are not made with regards to the strategic investor, despite the Finance Minister’s arguments that offering a share in CyTA to a strategic investor would help reduce public debt.
Meanwhile, the first hour of the session was held behind closed doors as lawmakers discussed a bill on issues of national security.