By Jean Christou
IF A meeting with stakeholders to solve the nuisance of unsolicited junk mail comes to nothing, parliament will be forced to legislate, it said yesterday.
“I regret to say that since 2003 when this became a pending issue, neither parliament, nor the state, nor local authorities, nor the parties involved have taken responsibility to coordinate or bring in a law or an authority to regulate this,” said committee chairman Adamos Adamou.
He said it has been accepted in the past that the phenomenon should be regulated but no one appears to agree on how, or to even suggest practical measures.
“We need to respect that members of the public should have the choice of whether or not they want these leaflets filling their mailboxes,” he said.
Opposition AKEL MP Adamou said it was not only an issue of leaflets littering roads but also the question of how much paper was being used and the impact on the environment.
He said a meeting would be set up by the environment commissioner and if that did not work, the House would convene a meeting with the relevant ministries to make them aware of their responsibilities. Failing that, parliament might be forced to legislate, he added.
Greens MP George Perdikis said there was an increasing number of complaints from the public over the amount of junk mail they find every day in their mailboxes.
“This must stop,” he said. “It appears once again that the municipalities refuse to take responsibility and they made a very bad impression on the members of this committee,” he said. “The municipalities seem to want only to collect taxes and fees and to undertake only services with the fewest responsibilities.”
Perdikis said it appeared the only option left was for the House to vote on a bill that would control the distribution of flyers and the consumer’s right not to have to accept them.
“Hopefully, the government will respond positively and close this gap [in the law] that causes annoyance.”
Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou said that since 2003 there had been some difficulties in solving the problem of uncontrolled distribution of brochures and this had become apparent during the committee meeting.
She said she would take the initiative to arrange a meeting with all relevant ministries and local government to try and reach a consensus about what should be done.
“If we do not reach a positive result, the House will come back and will legislate its own regulations, but it is important that all parties reach a consensus on a bill to regulate,” she added.
Alexandros Andreou, head of the association for the distribution of promotional materials, agreed, saying that a lot of businesses were using illegal workers to distribute leaflets.
He said if parliament wished, there were some aspects that could be resolved by legislation, but he said he wanted to make it clear that they would not agree to any law banning the distribution of promotional materials as it was a way for some people to earn a living.
“The EU is promoting market liberalisation and we want to return to monopolies?” he asked.
Andreou said there were currently 10-20 companies engaged in leaflet distribution.