20 March 2014 14:58

Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos on Wednesday revealed the Cabinet has cut an additional €300,000 from the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) 2014 budget amid concerns the state broadcaster had overestimated its projected income.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Hasikos said: "In my opinion, CyBC's budget for 2014 may be balanced but it is based on overestimated predicted revenue."
He said that budget negotiations with CyBC's former board had begun 10 months ago, during which his ministry had requested significant cost reductions. But to cover the required spending cuts, CyBC indulged in some creative accounting.
"What eventually happened was that beyond the state subsidy, which is up to us and is €3.487 million, essentially no other cut was made. What they did was increase the anticipated income to balance it," Hasikos said.  
"This is a phenomenon that must never be repeated," he added.
Saying he believed the CyBC leadership was "trapped in earlier habits and mind-sets," the minister also said he anticipated future financial difficulties for the CyBC if it did not get the advertising it anticipated.
He said the issue would now be in the hands of the House of Representatives as the government could not intervene further.
"What we did today as the Cabinet, at my suggestion, was another cut of an extra €300,000 connected to internal functioning expenses."
He said the cut was a message to semi-government organisations to remind them they had to realise they could not be left unaffected by the crisis.
Many are seen as overstaffed and inefficient with a top-heavy pay roll.
Responding to a question, Hasikos added: "I am not talking about people getting fired. But where we can clean house without affecting the staff, we should."
The CyBC budget for 2014 is balanced with, according to Hasikos: "Income of €30.45m, outgoings of €30.45m."
Hasikos noted the state's subsidy would be 8% lower than last year, standing at €24.3m and that "again compared to the 2013 budget, a total reduction of €3.487m has been achieved".
Hasikos said savings had been made in expenses for the provision of radio and television services.
"I am very sad to say that when it comes to the capital for programming expenses, where the minister's initial suggestion had been a 40% reduction, there was one of just 1.5%."


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