18 February 2014 07:53

Changes must be made to the island's semi-government organisations so that their value increases before they are offered for privatisation, the heads of three of the largest auditing firms on the island argue.
They stressed the need to safeguard the interests of consumers, the country and the organisations themselves, through the establishment of rules and operational plans, as well as the careful selection of investors who will express interest.
More strike at key utilities are planned as the asset sell-off goes to parliament for a final vote.
The Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte, Christis Christoforou said governments should determine economic policy, and not run businesses, and that this model has been applied internationally and in most EU countries.
Primarily, he said, because of the small size of the market, the state should ensure that private monopoly or oligopoly be governed by such regulations, so as to avoid the exploitation of the public.
"Unfortunately, over time, all semi-government organisations have lost their value due to poor management throughout the years, and hence the slogan 'to sell our national wealth' is not applicable," he said, adding that changes should be made within the next couple of years in order to recover their lost value.  In particular, these organisations should be run on a new basis and their operating cost be reduced.
"In the next two years the government should make the right decisions, decisions which are also painful for organisations," adding that no matter how painful they may seem now, they will, in the long run, be in the public's best interest.
"The 80,000 unemployed are not members of CYTA, or EAC or any other organisation. Up until now those that have been the least affected by the crisis are the public service and semi-government organisations, and they too should suffer changes because of it, so that they increase their value and get sold at better prices".
If the government does not move forward with the implementation of these changes, he warned, they will suffer the same fate as that of Cyprus Airways, which has been looking for investors over the past three years with little luck and now everyone is waiting for it to shut down or sold for a rock-bottom price.
Managing partner of EY Cyprus, Andreas Demetriou, said that the recent economic crisis is expected to lead to an increase in the number of privatisations, and that they are expected to occur simultaneously, resulting in a number of countries, which proceed with privatisations, competing to secure limited investment capital.
"It is for this reason that governments should be clear regarding the goals of the privatisation plan, and the criteria with which the final outcome is measured. In this way the government will be able to prove that the best decisions were made to maximize the value of state assets," Demetriou said.


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