BIG question marks hang over relocating the Famagusta district’s land registry offices from Larnaca to Paralimni, MPs said on Thursday.
The land registry offices are to be moved to Paralimni at premises owned by a private company, with the state renting the property, in a move designed to save the state some €270,000 per year.
But MPs heard that while the going lease rate for such premises in Paralimni is usually around €3.3 per square metre, the deal struck with the property owner was €9.84.
By comparison, the going rate in Nicosia is around €10 per square metre.
Speaking at the House watchdog committee, auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides pointed out another problematic component of the move to Paralimni: that the state agreed to incur the cost of configuring the Paralimni premises into office space for the land registry.
These costs amount to around €500,000. But according to the audit office, these costs should have been borne by the landlord, not the tenant – the state.
Moreover, the auditor-general found that somewhere along the way the terms of the procurement for the office space were amended – apparently without communicating this information to the proper authorities – so that the property owner in Paralimni is no longer obligated to configure parking space for employees or visitors.
“It appears that the state was renting a super-expensive building in Larnaca [for the land registry], and now it will be renting only a slightly less expensive building,” said Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis.
And he hinted that the terms of the procurement were changed in order to benefit a specific businessman in Paralimni.
MPs heard also that the building to be rented in Paralimni belongs to a company, which in turn is owned by another company registered in Panama.
Lawmakers demanded to learn the identity of the Panama-registered company.