By Andria Kades
WHILE the state law office is facing a dramatic increase in workload primarily stemming from cases in the courts relating to the demise of the economy and from other obligations agreed with the Troika, it is facing a cut in its budget next year of almost €1.5m.
The figure, submitted to the House finance committee by Attorney-general Costas Clerides is €17,129,832 a drop from €18,562,103 for the current term.
He added that not only has the workload increased but staff numbers have actually decreased after a significant number of high ranking employees have left and consequentially has affected the speed with which cases are processed.
Although the procedure to unfreeze certain position was pushed forward, it is not expected to happen any time soon as this is a complicated and time consuming process, he added.
Committee chairman and DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said “it is with particular concern that we see that a year later, these positions have still not been filled due to the bureaucracy the public service is known to have,” while he questioned whether it was time to create the role of a permanent secretary for the state law office.
“It cannot be possible that the Ayia Fyla Cooperative bank loans case has already started in court while no case has started until today for Mr. Vgenopoulos’ Laiki bank’s billions of uninsured loans.”
“We are talking about a delay of more than four years. When will the investigation and trial of these cases start?”
In another matter, Clerides said payments made to political parties by Focus Maritime Corporation were not illegal, however any consequences stemming from the may have been illegal, according to the state broadcaster.
During the session, Supreme Court president Miron Nicolatos said the quality of justice in Cyprus is at a high level but there are serious problems as far as the time it takes to actually serve it.
“We are not at the desired level and that’s where we’ll throw our weight. How can we improve the speed with which we serve justice?” he asked deputies.
“Creating special courts will contribute in serving justice faster, reducing the workload courts have.”
According to a note submitted by the Chief registrar of the Supreme Court to parliament, the budget for the judicial service for 2016 outlines expenditure of €30,176,612 an increase from this year’s €26,616,189. Salaries for staff and judges as well as the courts running costs comprise 76 per cent of this amount.
Stressing the need to resolve the problem, Papadopoulos said thousands of lawsuits have been brought to court for bond holders, the number of which will increase to tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands regarding insolvencies.
He agreed with recommendations by Nicolatos to create a new court for commerce, increase the number of judges and modernise judicial procedures, however he slammed the state for not taking any steps towards implementing anything to resolve the problem.