The voting of the annual budgets of the University of Cyprus and the Cyprus University of Technology, which were examined during today's meeting of the Education Committee of the Parliament, was postponed.
The proposed budgets amount to 163 million for the University of Cyprus (PK), and 74 million for the Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK). The discussion did not end, as questions were raised regarding the management of the funds available to the two institutions.
In statements after the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee and MP of DIKO Pavlos Mylonas, stated that the Committee expects answers regarding the double payment of € 1.6 million from PK to the same company, without having completed a full briefing the Parliament, which approved a relevant item.
“We consider it unacceptable that a budget of € 1.6 million was approved last week by the Plenary Session of the Parliament for payment by the PC to the contractor, while after the approval of the additional budget we learned that the same amount had already been paid,” he said. Mr Mylonas, adding that this was disrespectful to the Commission and Parliament, but especially to the people. “Public universities should be our pride and these attitudes are not in line with the rector's office,” he said.
He also stated that “there is a report that will be completed soon and the Audit Service has hinted that it” smells “a scandal regarding the Polytechnic.”
Regarding TEPAK, the Chairman of the Committee said that answers are expected regarding complaints for staff members, as well as for the high rents given to house his services.
He stated that “no budget is going to go to the Plenary”, until all the questions posed at the Committee meeting are answered.
The Spokesperson of the Audit Office, Marios Petridis, stated that after a preliminary investigation, it was found that on 2/9/2021 the University of Cyprus paid € 1.6 million to a company, while it was not approved in the budget of the year for this purpose. . “We have brought the above to the attention of the Attorney General, so that he can exercise his own constitutional, exclusive responsibilities,” he concluded.
For his part, the Rector of the University of Cyprus, Tassos Christofidis, answering questions on the subject investigated by the Audit Office, said that “the amicable settlement (between the university and the company) was approved by the Central Committee for Changes and Requirements. in which the Auditor General also participates “. Regarding the progress of work for the Polytechnic School, he stated that due to the size of the project and the specificity of the materials, there were delays, which is why the University “made an effort of amicable settlement with the contractor, with strict schedules and clauses”, which did not was accepted by the Central Committee on Changes and Claims. “If this project is not completed and we are called to stop it, the taxpayer will bear a huge cost,” he concluded.
DISY MP, Prodromos Alampritis, expressed pride “for attracting funds from European and research programs and for the level of degrees” of the public Universities of Cyprus. He noted, however, that in the past there had been misconduct that should not be repeated, and stressed that future goals should be to obtain grants from European research and innovation programs, with the aim of creating jobs and the overall development of the place.
In closing, he underlined the need for the creation of a University School in Larnaca, a constant request of the city's institutions, in which, as Mr. Alampritis said, there has been a setback lately.
On behalf of AKEL, MP Christos Christofias said that “public universities have offered a lot in research, in the employment of young scientists, but also in the right to free and quality education for the young men and women of our country.”
He said, however, that questions had been asked of the two universities as to where the money received from postgraduate tuition fees was channeled. “The logic of the tuition was to return that money to upgrade the quality of education and benefits for students,” he said, noting that this remains to be seen. He added that there are concerns about student welfare and especially towards students of lower social strata.
Speaking as a Member of Parliament for Larnaca province, Andreas Apostolou of EDEK stated that he was “deeply hurt by the inconsistency of the University of Cyprus”, since “there was a commitment that in September 2019 the School of Marine Sciences would start operating, but with students in two departments” the change in the rectory authority, this decision has not been implemented. He concluded that the deputies and the bodies of the province will continue the coordinated efforts for the establishment of a University School in Larnaca.
DIPA MP, Alekos Tryfonidis, praised the academic work of the universities, but also their participation in research programs abroad. He noted that their further development internationally would attract foreign exchange to the Cypriot economy.
He referred to a number of issues that need to be addressed, such as the increase in student housing, the presentation of a study on the utilization of knowledge and skills of graduates in the labor market (so that they do not end up unemployed), the construction of privately owned facilities to save millions on rent. deficit of € 115 million in the staff pension fund of PK, for which a viability study was requested.
Special mention was made of the Polytechnic School, which started in 2016 and was expected to be completed in 2019, but is only in the middle of work, while it has absorbed € 37 million so far, from the total cost of € 37 million, which had calculated for the project. “We stressed that we can not vote on a budget without correcting criminal mistakes and omissions and losing millions from state coffers,” he concluded.
Independent MP Andreas Themistokleous also referred to the problem with the construction of the Polytechnic School of PK, which presents, as he said, “significant delays”, as well as the Library of the same University.
A debate on the Limassol Arena opens in Parliament
DIKO MP, Chrysanthos Savvidis, stated that the issue concerning the allocation of the funds approved for the construction of the Limassol Arena stadium in Kolossi was raised as an ex officio issue before the Commission.
“They were building a stadium with 13,000 seats and we are finally learning that there will be fewer seats,” he said, adding that € 40 million had already been approved for the stadium and another € 10 million for the road network around it. “a project that ultimately seems to be different from what we had in mind,” he concluded.