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Ways to collect unpaid fines discussed in House

Missing in action: Crystal Georghadji

The House watchdog committee on Tuesday again discussed the matter of outstanding fines, with MPs seeking to propose novel ways to improve payment collection.

As of February this year, the state was owed €203.5 million in outstanding fines, corresponding to 216,000 unexecuted payment warrants, committee chairman Georgios Georgiou said.

Of these, €115.9 million concerned social insurance contributions and criminal cases.

Georgiou proposed that police prioritise warrants for fines over €300 because of administrative costs that come with the execution of warrants.

Already, he added, police have managed to reduce outstanding warrants dating between 1980 and 1999 from the initial €4.5m to around €400,000.

For persons on welfare who owe the state money for fines, Georgiou proposed that authorities look into the possibility of deducting “a very small amount” from welfare cheques until the fines are paid in full.

The committee has also asked the Attorney-general’s office to explore whether it is legally permissible to suspend the permits of private security companies who owe the state money.

According to the auditor-general’s report for 2014, the value of unexecuted warrants was €203,460,681 in January 2015, compared to €188,929,254 six months earlier in June 2014.

At the time, half of the outstanding fines concerned social insurance contributions, of which more than €3m concerned those against 18 legal entities that owe sums exceeding €100,000.

Unexecuted warrants for traffic violations amounted to €20 million, the auditor-general’s report said.

Regarding the collection of fines issued against organisations or companies, the report said, “given that the process of confiscating movable property is difficult to implement” the justice and labour ministers agreed to adopt the same enforcement procedures as they do with outstanding warrants for VAT and income tax.

Police have cited various reasons for their failure to execute the warrants, including being unable to locate the people involved.

But back in 2010 former auditor-general Chrystalla Georghadji pointed out that the list of laggards includes well known people like politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists and sports officials.

According to her 2010 report, 750 plus warrants worth over €800,000 concerned active lawyers while an additional 2,000 worth €1.1 million regarded civil servants.

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