By Constantinos Psillides
THE state is considering allocating money from refugee funding to compensate applicants to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in the north, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday.
The move has been prompted by the increasing flow of applicants to the IPC.
Hasikos met yesterday with Finance Minister Harris Georgiades, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and ministry technocrats.
Talking to press after the meeting, Hasikos said that reaching a solution would be very difficult.
“Our goal is to resolve this issue as soon as possible. We might not be able to provide a comprehensive solution but we need to give something to these people,” Hasikos said.
He said money could be diverted from the Agency for Equal Distribution of Burdens (EDB), which has €80m in reserve, and other refugee housing funds which total €65m.
The EDB is the foreign ministry’s service for approving loans at lower interests for refugees who lost land in the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Hasikos stressed that some compensation must be given to refugees to dissuade them from resorting to the IPC, because reverting to the property commission could potentially damage the Cyprus problem negotiations.
Commenting on whether the state should appeal to the applicants patriotism, Hasikos said he did not wish to offend anyone. “We are all patriots. Intimidation is not the way to resolve this issue.”
Asked on whether the state should consider raising the building coefficient to match that of the house the refugees lost in the war, Hasikos said that it would create more problems than it solved. “First of all, nobody can determine what the building coefficient is for the occupied areas. Secondly, raising the building coefficient would lead to anarchy in the building sector. We can’t consider that option,” Hasikos said, adding that what could be done was for the state to give exemptions to refugees regarding building permits.
Currently, 5,399 applications were lodged with the IPC, of which 437 were concluded through friendly settlements and ten through formal hearing.
The IPC has so far paid GBP £138,593,591 to the applicants as compensation, a sum considered by many Greek Cypriots as extraordinarily low for the amount of land involved.