By Evie Andreou
Fisheries department staff were blocked from entering their office on Monday after its owner placed a padlock on the main entrance due to a rent dispute with the government.
Owner of the building Antonakis Loizou, who has been renting it to the government since 2007, also prevented any vehicles from entering.
The rental agreement between Loizou and the government was for €200,000 per year, but two years ago, due to the economic crisis, the rent was lowered to €80,000, according to the Cyprus News Agency. But after the contract expired, the owner asked for the rent to be raised to the original sum.
Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary Olympia Stylianou said that after negotiations with Loizou, which were concluded later on Monday morning, the employees will be allowed to enter the premises soon.
Commenting on whether the government will pay the €200,000 the owner is asking, she said the rent has been approved but there are disagreements on other terms of the contract, which are being discussed.
An officer of the department on Monday had to jump over the fence and sneak into her office, after she was denied entrance, because she needed some documents she had to take with her on a business trip.
After a couple of hours standing outside the barred gate, the employees left, pending the owner’s decision on when they will be allowed in.