By Stefanos Evripidou
INTERIOR MINISTER Socratis Hasikos will take a proposal to cabinet tomorrow giving Greek Cypriot owners of property in the occupied areas the right to buy and sell their properties without having to pay transfer duties.
The proposal, which extends the right to buy and sell property in the occupied areas only to other Greek Cypriots, was prepared as one of the measures to avert mass applications by Greek Cypriot refugees to the immoveable property commission (IPC) in the north, particularly those in a worse financial situation following the Eurogroup decision to raid deposits.
Speaking yesterday, Hasikos said the issue will be looked at in common with all political parties as part of the wider considerations of the relevant subcommittee of the National Council.
The minister made the comments after reports were published in the local press that Hasikos had prepared a draft bill that would allow the sale of occupied properties without imposing any taxes, such as capital gains tax or transfer tax, on the buyer or seller.
The bill allows for the purchase or sale of Greek Cypriot properties in the north only between Greek Cypriots.
The measure is aimed at tackling the increasing tide of Greek Cypriot refugees seeking financial help, following the deepest recession in Cyprus since the Turkish invasion almost four decades ago.
According to yesterday’s Alithia, the government is concerned that more and more refugees find themselves in a desperate financial situation and so are willing to give up the rights to their properties in the occupied areas, in exchange for compensation that comes to a fraction of the real value of the property.
According to some analysts, Turkey’s thinking in setting up the IPC, is to provide a cheap method to avert costly penalties following Greek Cypriot applications to the European Court of Human Rights, while also encouraging an exchange of properties between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, north and south of the divide, further cementing the ‘bizonal’ nature of any future settlement.