By Bejay Browne
PEYIA COUNCIL in Paphos has voted to keep a two-tier payment system in place for municipal cemetery plots, which effectively sees foreign residents paying double.
Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc told the Cyprus Mail : “ This topic has been contentious for at least six months and now Peyia council has voted to keep the existing prices in place. This means there are two different prices for plots at the two municipal cemeteries.”
An older cemetery is traditionally used to bury Greek Orthodox residents and the newer one is used to bury foreign residents.
A space in the older cemetery costs €427, but at the newer one, which is already half full, a plot costs €854.
Leblanc said foreign residents are never offered a choice and are automatically allocated graves at the newer cemetery.
“In theory, residents should be offered a choice, but they’re not and in practice this means that the price is more than double for foreigners,” she said.
The council is justifying its action on the grounds that there were substantial costs involved in purchasing the land for the newer cemetery, although Leblanc said that no actual figures are available.
“I have requested a financial breakdown to include costs incurred, such as how much the land cost, but as it seems that proper records haven’t been kept, nothing has been forthcoming. I am questioning how they came up with the figure which is double,” she said.
Leblanc noted that although there is still space available at the old cemetery and although the municipality is saying it’s for everyone’s use, in practice, this isn’t the case.
“I have spoken to a number of residents who have enquired about plots and they weren’t given an option. This practice has been going on for years and its discrimination, but this is a view the municipality doesn’t accept.”
The Peyia councilor underlined that costs at the second cemetery were actually more than double, as the plots are smaller than at the older grave yard.
In addition, residents are not permitted to purchase plots in advance at the new cemetery.
“I have brought up the fact that couples may wish to purchase plots next to each other in advance, as they want to be together when they die. This is not permitted,” said Leblanc. “I then suggested that the grave could be dug deeper so that it would be possible to bury two people in one grave. They said this would be charged at €1,200 for the one plot.
By contrast, Leblanc said Cypriots only pay once for a plot at the old cemetery and if someone else wants to be buried in the same grave further down the line, they may be interred there at no extra charge.
“As I understand it, there is no extra cost. In Peyia the Cypriots pay once.”
The councillor added that she has been informed that other Paphos communities, such as Tala, Kissonerga and Emba were facing similar problems. In Tala, the subject is due to be discussed at a forthcoming community board meeting.
In the meantime, Leblanc says the subject will be open for discussion at this week’s monthly meeting of the Peyia Coalition of Independents.
“We will ask people what course of action, if any, they want to take such as filing a complaint with the Ombudsman,” she said.
The expat community in Paphos has long campaigned for the creation of a crematorium in Cyprus but the issue is still before parliament.