Local authority reform is a great opportunity to modernize Cyprus and a step the government is not afraid to take, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Friday.
During a presentation held at Skarinou community council of a techno-economical study commissioned by the ministry on the much-discussed reform, Petrides said both the ministry and union of communities agreed that the current system was ancient.
The only way local authority reform can work in rural areas is through the creation of local cluster services which would have legal status, he added.
“Today is a landmark day for local communities as we’re turning the page together,” Petrides said.
Cluster services will offer joint common services such as waste, sewerage, cleaning and community council to a cluster of communities.
Representatives from PWC, which carried out the study, said their findings revealed that a cluster service would improve services for residents, better communication between communities and the government, reduce costs and make full use of existing staff in local communities.
The announcement marks the beginning of a two-month public discussion on establishing a local cluster service with the aim of submitting bills to parliament by May, Petrides said.
There are currently 250,000 residents in 349 communities in Cyprus’ rural areas.
The new cluster services in Nicosia would include 94 communities that have around 72,000 residents, 30,000 premises and 136 full time staff.
In Limassol, the plan provides for the cluster service to oversee 104 communities, some 59,000 residents, 26,000 premises and 300 full time staff.
Larnaca’s numbers amount to 45 communities with 53,000 residents, 23,000 premises and 164 full time staff while in Paphos, the plan is 101 communities totaling 42,000 residents, 19,000 premises and 130 full time staff.
Famagusta entails five communities with around 17,000 residents, 7,000 premises and 34 full time staff.
“We have decided to go for reform starting from the bottom and moving up, with a scientific and documented way,” Petrides said.
Head of the union of communities Andreas Kitromilides said the day marked a significant step towards achieving reform for Cyprus’ local authorities.