By Andria Kades
LIMASSOL mayor Andreas Christou was defiant after the Auditor-general sent him a letter saying his actions over water sports tenders were illegal.
“If the government considers we are wrong it should find a solution with parliament,” Christou said referring to a legal dispute between House regulations that say anyone who wants to bid should have five years of experience in the specific area which contradict an EU directive that says tenders should allow for an open competition.
The letter, sent by Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides, outlines that any tender that loses the bid can appeal to the Supreme Court, something Christou is aware of, but this will be at the expense of the municipality.
The parliament regulations “paint a picture” of who can apply for tenders as it is essentially those who are already set up there. MPs have been accused of having vested interests and questionable reasons as to why such stringent requirements are needed.
Christou was adamant they were following a parliamentary decision and although the government’s opinion was of course respected, “we are not obliged to follow it.”
“The Auditor-general says one thing, parliament says another… only the court can decide if we acted unlawfully.”
Interior minister Socrates Hasikos asked municipalities to sideline the regulations and that they would propose new laws to parliament that followed the EU directive. This would not be the first time they attempt change as in 2014, they proposed the years of experience should be reduced to three and would allow anyone to take part from Cyprus or the EU. Although this was approved by the Cabinet, it was rejected by parliament.
On the other side of the fence, House Interior Committee chairman Yiannos Lamaris said Hasikos’s request to local authorities was “arbitrary” while he questioned in which country the Attorney-general and Auditor-general assess the legality of any legislation.
Limassol municipality has already made a call for tenders requiring five years of experience in the same area and it would now be illegal to change the terms, Christou said. All decisions were taken after legal consultations from the Union of Municipalities and the Beaches Committee, according to the mayor who was told that whether it was right or wrong, they were required to follow the regulations.
In Ayia Napa, only one beach currently offers water sports after delays by the municipality to call for tenders.
Mayor Yiannos Karousos blamed the Beaches Committee for not responding to requests for clarifications over what the parliament regulations meant by saying five years in “the area in question.”
“Is it the specific beach? The area near it? The city? Cyprus as a whole? What do they mean by the area? No one has replied to us,” which has as a result, left tourists in most beaches with nothing to do.
Nevertheless, he is expected to call for tenders next week with the condition that tenderers have five years experience in “similar beaches.”
The Beaches Committee said parliament regulations were perfectly clear.
Larnaca municipality is expected to discuss it an administrative committee today, after a tender’s committee yielded no results. Paralimni mayor Pyrillis Theodorou said they were following the law and no problems had been created.
Paphos municipality general secretary Themis Phillipides said that the calls for tenders, announced in November 2014, had required five years of experience at any beaches. “When we call for a new tender, we will evaluate the developments,” he said.