PARLIAMENT passed by a majority vote on Thursday a law stripping the Labour minister of the power to issue decrees regulating shop opening hours in designated tourist areas.
The bill passed 31 votes in favour, with 18 against from ruling DISY.
Under the current system, the minister issues decrees on an ad hoc basis allowing shops in tourist areas to operate on Sundays from 11am to 7pm and have extended hours during the rest of the week. The cabinet decree came into effect on January 2 and is valid until April 30.
AKEL, which tabled the legislative proposal – now law – abolishing the minister’s powers, argued that the measure benefits large retailers at the expense of small businesses, which cannot compete.
The party has cited its own figures showing that hundreds of convenience stores and bakeries have shut down, with some 2,700 people losing their jobs.
Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou has also been accused of abusing the legislation by issuing decrees to businesses located in waste disposal areas in Larnaca and Nicosia.
The retailers association, however, contends the decree has been a success, not only boosting the market but also providing employment to around 6,000.
As the current decree expires on April 30, after which date shop opening hours in tourist areas will be left in limbo, it is now up to the government to quickly bring ordinances comprehensively regulating the issue.