By Stelios Orphanides
Nine months after the government and the unions agreed that Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) workers will not see their benefits affected after being transformed from a semi-governmental office into a junior ministry for tourism, the government accepted a proposal by Akel not to scrap the tourism board altogether and to place it under its umbrella, a lawmaker said.
“We also proposed that there should be a licencing one-stop-shop to allow someone to submit applications for investment projects and reduce bureaucracy. CTO will be responsible only for the implementation of the tourism (strategy), the quality of services and advertising”.
Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides who is heading the government’s unit of administrative reform, tasked with producing proposals to overhaul Cyprus’s outdated governance model, accepted some of the communist party’s proposals, incorporated in a new draft bill, Stefanou said. He added that the new bill will be debated on Tuesday when the parliamentary committee for finance meets again.
An official of the Cyprus Hotels Association said that the business group is in favour of seeing the junior ministry established and expects to see the outcome of consultations and give-and-take involving political parties and the government in an attempt to form a majority in the parliament before commenting on them.
“We are in favour of the approval and the institutionalisation of the junior ministry,” Zacharias Ioannides, the CHA director said.
Still, he added, the junior minister must have the responsibility of implementing strategic planning in the area of tourism. “If there is a reconciliation of positions in institutionalising the junior ministry, we support this as long as the new body is effective and viable”.
In February, SEK and PEO, the two major unions representing workers at the tourism board, signed an agreement with the government regulating labour issues. Under the agreement, signed by Petrides, then Under-Secretary to the President, who also oversaw the preparation of a national tourism strategy, benefits for workers at the CTO will remain unchanged after its transformation into a junior-ministry.
Affected CTO workers would then automatically become civil servants.