PROGRESS has been made over the discriminatory pricing policy for expats wanting to buy burial plots in Peyia.
Foreign residents are now being offered a choice of burial at either the older and cheaper cemetery, or the newer more expensive one. Until recently, a two-tier payment system for municipal plots had effectively seen non-Cypriot residents paying double and being forced to use the new cemetery.
Maureen Watt of Angel Guardians Funeral Home in Paphos, said that for the first time, they were now able to offer people a choice of cemetery plots in both Peyia facilities.
“The new cemetery is charged at 850 euros a plot and the old one at 425 euros. When I used to go to Peyia to pay for a plot, they always wrote a receipt for 850 euros, the matter was never discussed,” she told the Sunday Mail.
Locally, the municipal cemeteries are known as the Cypriot cemetery and the British cemetery, although all sorts of nationalities are buried in the ‘British’ one.
“Recently, we were informed that we could offer both cemeteries, it is much better to be able to offer people an option now,” she said.
In 2014, Peyia council had voted to keep in place a two-tier system that had existed since 1999, much to the chagrin of Peyia councillor, Linda Leblanc, who said it smacked of discrimination.
“Over the last 15 years, there must be many families who were not offered a choice and had to pay twice as much,” she said.
Leblanc said that although there had been plots available at the cheaper, older site since 1999, around 50-100 non-Cypriot families had automatically been directed to the more expensive one.
The councillor said that Peyia should be willing to pay some compensation or damages for 15 years of discrimination to those families or individuals who request it.
When Leblanc complained to the Ombudsman’s Office about the pricing, she said Peyia municipality used religious discrimination to justify the higher cost of plots, saying the older ‘Greek Orthodox’ cemetery was less than the newer ‘Catholic’ one.
“They used these terms to describe the two facilities and said the new cemetery cost more when the municipality appropriated the land in the 1990s,” she said.
Leblanc said that she told the ombudsman’s office that designation by religion was odd, as both are municipal cemeteries and had nothing to do with churches.
She was surprised when she then had to clarify the point regarding religion to the ombudsman’s officer, who asked if the foreigners buried in the new cemetery were Catholics or Protestants.
“I said they are many different religions, including non-Christians and free-thinkers.”
Watt said that so far no non-Cypriots had taken up the offer to be buried in the old cemetery, although she stressed that it was important to have a choice.
“Not everyone has these sorts of funds and they should be offered both options,” she said.
She added that since Angel Guardians started operation five years ago, Peyia and Tala were the only places in Paphos using a double tiered pricing.
Watt said: “We have also been told by the muktah in Tala that it’s now the same price for everybody; this brings them into line with every other Paphos village, where people are charged the same amount.”
The expat community in Paphos has long campaigned for the creation of a crematorium in Cyprus but the issue is still before parliament.