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Cyprus

Limassol mayors object to local government reform

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos

LEGISLATION aimed at overhauling local government will end up disrupting the system, mayors of the Limassol district warned on Wednesday.

“The bill does not reform, but rather deregulates local and regional growth. It does not decentralise the system but rather concentrates all powers and jurisdictions on a district level, thereby creating a wasteful and bureaucratic model,” the mayors said in a statement.

“Municipalities will lose all their jurisdictions and powers, and will be turned into cosmetic bodies, bodies where only consultations will take place and where all the problems are passed onto the District Officer.”

It was clear, the mayors said, that the proposed change will not achieve economies of scale, nor lead to better services for the public.

Moreover, no economic feasibility study was carried out, they added.

Earlier this month, the cabinet gave the nod to a bill for reform of local government designed to cut administrative costs through a clustering of services and a reduction in the payroll.

The item will be discussed in parliament after the summer break; the government wants it passed well before the end of the year.

Overhaul of local administration is a condition stemming from a bailout agreement with international creditors. Cyprus is already behind schedule.

The legislation envisages the clustering of services on a district level. For example, as Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos has stated, district authorities would issue town planning and building permits.

The bill does keep intact the number of municipalities or municipal councils, but proposes to slash the number of municipal councillors.

Once local administration is reformed, the subsidy given by the state to local authorities will be abolished and they will undertake to collect property tax, now done by the government.

 

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