By Evie Andreou
The legal service on Tuesday night secured a court order which forbids the owner of the building that houses the Fisheries Department to prevent employees from entering.
The order was issued a day after employees of the department were locked out of their offices after the owner of the building placed padlocks at the entrances following disagreements on the rental agreement with the government.
The rent for the building was €200,000 per year but two years ago, due to the economic crisis, it was lowered to €80,000. With the expiration of the latest contract the owner asked for the amount be raised to the original sum.
The Agriculture ministry said the increased rent was approved by the government but that the problem lies with other provisions.
“The most important problem was that the owner of the building did not accept a provision in the contract which gives the ministry the right to move out of the building with a certain notice,” Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said.
He added that the employees were temporarily sent to other ministry services and to the Fisheries department’s district offices and coastal stations.
Head of the state agency that deals with housing government services Alecos Michaelides said the higher figure is a sensible rent amount.
As regards the overall costs to rent buildings to house government services, Michaelides said that in three years costs have been reduced by €5m, from a total of €31m spent in 2011 to €26m in 2014.