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Cyprus

Fine-dodging public servants will see dues deducted from salary

Over 650 public servants are to have outstanding fines deducted directly from their salaries after playing cat and mouse when it came to coughing up the cash.

On Friday, police forwarded on a list of 654 names of public servants to the Treasury. According to reports, the list even includes members of the police force.

The numbers however are not conclusive – these are only the people with one outstanding fine as those are being processed first because authorities cannot deduct wages for more than one penalty at a time.

In total, €11 million is owed to the state for unpaid fines, according to last year’s justice ministry figures.

One instance cited by Phileleftheros is of a doctor at a state hospital with 45 outstanding dues adding up to €82,000.

According to the report, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has also proposed applying the measure to those receiving social security or pensions, subtracting €10 to €20 per month until the fines are paid.

By August last year, justice ministry figures revealed there were 13,109 warrants outstanding against people aged over 65.

Work is piling up for police with more and more warrants not being settled. In 2015, some 72,005 fines were issued prompting the justice ministry to re-evaluate whether another service outside of the police could deal with these issues exclusively as the police could not act as a collections agency.

Over the past five years, 187,392 fines were issued with only 54,073 being served, bringing in €11.1m.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou is believed to have written a letter to the police chief asking him to steer away from imprisoning people when it is truly impossible for them to pay their debts.

Those individuals are encouraged to contact the Attorney-general’s office to make arrangements such as paying in instalments.

The ministry is also mulling introducing a community service sentence for those who struggle to pay their debts.

Police earlier this year met with JCC representatives to evaluate the possibility of allowing people to pay their fines with credit cards, Phileleftheros said.

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