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Cyprus

Cabinet moves to sort out expropriations mess

By George Psyllides

As a further step to put an end to practices costing taxpayers millions, the cabinet decided on Friday to record all properties that have been expropriated by the state but have not been used within three years.

The decision includes all state authorities which must record all cases inside six months.

The list will be handed over to the interior ministry which will decide how to proceed in consultation with the finance ministry and the auditor general.

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said some expropriations will be rescinded and some properties will be sold back or put on auction.

Hasikos attributed the mess to bad planning on behalf of state authorities, adding that in some cases private interests appeared to be served instead of the public.

“That is why we want to put some order considering that the Republic already owes over €550 million to the owners of expropriated properties,” Hasikos said.

It follows another recent decision that ministries planning to expropriate land must receive the cabinet’s approval before the procedure could start.

The new rule concerns expropriations worth over €200,000 including the cost of the project and VAT.

The aim is to prevent phenomena where the state is dragged to court and ordered to pay hefty compensation for expropriated land that was not used within the foreseen time due to inadequate studies and bad planning, observed many times in state projects.

Late in March, bailiffs seized Attorney-general Costas Clerides’ limo as a result of a court case filed against the government.

Clerides’ car was seized from the reserved parking space in front of the Law Offices in Nicosia on the strength of a court order that ruled in favour of a private citizen whose land, around 10,000 square metres, had been initially expropriated – but never paid for – by the government.

 

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