By George Psyllides
RED TAPE costs Cyprus €1bn a year, it emerged yesterday, and members of parliament expect it to be reduced through electronic governance.
At the same time they have asked for other decisive measures and political decisions to cut bureaucratic procedures.
House Trade Committee chairman and DISY MP Lefteris Christoforou said that it was sad that the public has to be burdened with a billion euros in bureaucracy costs, promising to do what it takes to bring that cost down.
“The walls put up by bureaucracy have left us with no option but to fight with a thousand ways to tear them down, even through legislation,” the committee chairman said, adding that it was inconceivable for the country not to tackle the problem when the country is going through a financial crisis.
The biggest chunk of the hefty bill – €700m – was in administrative costs in just eight government departments, MPs were told.
Included in those sectors were the VAT service, tourism, agriculture, and the registrar of companies.
It does not include town planning, the land registry, and other vital departments, which would send the cost even higher.
On March 20, the government will implement a pilot programme linking 36 services electronically in a bid to cut costs.
But it will not solve the problem.
AKEL MP Costas Costa said the administration should implement more reforms and there must be a change in mentality in certain departments, where big delays were observed.
MPs heard that the cost of paper used by the cabinet alone was around €2m a year.
The cabinet announced last month it was entering the digital era by scrapping the process of note-taking in longhand and utilising an online application that will achieve considerable savings.
Known as e-cooperation, the application distributes almost all the cabinet material through an intranet and ministers will be able to have access from anywhere around the clock.
The site will also be used by ministries to submit proposals, memos, reports, and so on, without having to send them by post, thus saving on transport and messenger costs.
The move to the paperless cabinet will save some 2m sheets of paper a year and also slash the cost of printing by 95 to 97 per cent as only classified documents will be produced in hardcopy.
The application will become operational no later than March 20 and there will be a transitional period of around two months to ensure a smooth transfer.