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KOA pledges to amend its spendthrift ways.

The Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA) pledged on Thursday to reduce waste as its spending spree came under the scrutiny of lawmakers.

"Public moneys are sacred. I shall cut the hands off those who dip into the honey jar," vowed KOA chairman Andreas Michaelides.

He was speaking at the House watchdog committee discussing the auditor-general's 2017 report on KOA, the umbrella sports organisation.

Among the items highlighted in the report: a long-standing financial dispute between KOA and Strovolos municipality.

Rather than charge the sports clubs the entertainment tax for using the GSP stadium as their venue, the municipality sent the invoice to KOA.

"Instead of private companies [the clubs] being charged, we were charging a public-law entity," said auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides.

The dispute ended up in court, with the taxpayer footing the bill for legal expenses.

This was more money down the drain, Michaelides noted, urging the government to step in and take executive action to put an end to the disagreement.

Elsewhere, the audit office flagged schemes subsidising individual athletes or sports clubs.

The watchdog found, for instance, that a scheme for the professional rehabilitation of athletes was being milked for all it was worth.

The audit office identified four athletes who were getting paid under the scheme despite working part-time only, or even not being gainfully employed at all.

"As a matter of principle, we consider it unacceptable that athletes are being paid without them actually working. It's inconceivable that someone is getting e1/440,000 for hanging out at the cafes," Michaelides remarked.

Moreover, professional rehabilitation schemes should be amended so that individuals benefit for a limited time only -- a maximum of six years -- rather than until the age of retirement, as is the case now.

Money was also being wasted on government grants to sports clubs. In 2017, some e1/43.8m in taxpayer money was spent on grants, plus another e1/41.4m on policing.

Michaelides proposed that overtime pay for police officers guarding sports venues should be paid directly by the clubs, who would then file for refunds from KOA.

It also emerged that the Football Association is refusing to be audited by KOA.

As usual, the Cyprus Olympic Committee was mentioned, with Michaelides describing it as "a state within a state".

The Cyprus Olympic Committee has already spent half a million euro in interest payments on its new building.

MPs also heard that several sports venues and gyms across the island operate despite lacking a final certificate of approval.

The post KOA pledges to amend its spendthrift ways appeared first on Cyprus Mail .

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Feb 28, 2019
Words:441
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