By Peter Stevenson
INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos on Friday rejected the possibility of reducing the number of Municipalities from 39 to five following a proposal last week by the British National School of Government International (NSGI).
He met with the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM) and the Union of Cyprus Communities to discuss the NSGI proposal and listen to the concerns voiced by Mayors and community leaders.
Hasikos said he did not believe decreasing the number to five could work in Cyprus.
He said there was plenty of time for all concerned to submit their recommendations as to how the proposal could be changed before it is approved later this year. Despite reports that the proposal could be implemented in June, Hasikos said that it may be September or October before that happens which “would not be a problem,” he said.
He said he would meet with the political parties to exchange views and that a public forum would be held soon which would involve all the relevant authorities and community residents.
Mayors and community leaders complained that officials from NSGI did not meet with them to ask them their opinion before submitting the proposal.
The proposal was submitted last week and looked into streamlining local administration with a view to cutting costs, improving the quality of offered services and devolving power from central government.
The report identified four restructuring scenarios but favoured the dissolution of all existing structures of local government and the creation of five new directly elected administrative bodies with district boundaries.
An NSGI delegation will visit Cyprus in March to hold further meetings and will depart with a shortlist of two options before submitting a final recommendation on March 31.
A second study by an Italian house, commissioned by the UCM with the blessing of the interior minister is expected in early March.