By Evie Andreou
The state is owed more than €200m in outstanding fines, the majority of them for social insurance contributions, criminal offences and traffic violations according to the auditor-general’s 2014 report.
According to the report released last week, outstanding fines have remained high despite an increase in collecting the fines because the backlog has also increased.
The value of unexecuted warrants according to the report was €203,460,681 in January, compared to €188,929,254 six months earlier in June 2014.
Around 11 per cent more warrants concerning criminal cases were executed in 2014 compared to 2013, but there was also a 19 per cent increase in the number of unexecuted ones.
“It emerges that despite the increase in executed warrants, the outstanding ones increase over time, resulting in accumulated workload in the coming years,” the report said.
Half of the outstanding fines concerned social insurance contributions, of which more than €3m concern those against 18 legal entities that owe sums exceeding €100,000.
Two outstanding fines of more than €675,000 are owed by the Kofinou slaughterhouse, but have remained unpaid because the slaughterhouse is no longer operating.
“Sports clubs also owe more than €2.4m, some of which do not participate in the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) championships anymore due to financial difficulties,” the report said. The accountant general’s office is contemplating deducting the amounts from the annual funding clubs receive from the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA).
Following a cabinet decision, the finance minister has also been authorised to implement a debt repayment scheme for football clubs.
Unexecuted warrants for traffic violations, amount to €20m. The report suggests that the police prioritise warrants for fines over €300 because of administrative costs that come with the execution of warrants.
According to the report, police have managed to reduce outstanding warrants dating back to the period between 1980 and 1999 from the initial €4.5m to around €460,000, as instructed by the auditor general previously.
In terms of collecting fines issued against organisations or companies, “and given that the process of confiscating movable property is difficult to implement” the justice and labour ministers have agreed to adopt the same enforcement procedures as they do with outstanding warrants for VAT and income tax.
For smaller sums, legislation amendments have been promoted to give courts the option of ordering community service instead.