Cyprus Mail

Lakatamia in dire financial straits, says mayor

Lakatamia mayor Fotoulla Hadjipapa bemoaned the municipality’s miserable financial state on Wednesday, saying that they owed close to €17 million.

Speaking at a news conference where she disclosed the Nicosia district’s local authority’s finances, Hadjipapa said the sorry state of affairs was the result of mismanagement and reckless spending in recent years.

The mayor said they owed some €16.9m, making Lakatamia a monument to mismanagement and wastage.

“Unfortunately, the tragic position in which the municipality is in today … leaves no other choice but to address the residents with honesty and clarity,” she said.

Hadjipapa had pledged before her election that economic consolidation and prudent financial administration was her top priority.

Her words could probably apply to quite a few of the island’s 30 municipalities, which face serious financial problems.

Yet bills to reform the sector, including cutting the number of local authorities to more sustainable levels, have been languishing in parliament and were not expected to be approved with parties closing ranks ahead of the presidential elections next February.

“We will apply to all relevant state departments in a bid to tackle the situation,” she said. “If necessary, we will seek the assistance of outside consultants and experts. We will ask for an in-depth investigation, to analyse the data, carry out a proper audit, so that we know how this tragic condition was created.”

Municipal accountant Panayiotis Makkoulis said their deficit reached around €252,000 last year, compared with €366,000 in 2015.

Last year the municipality had around €9.3m in revenue against €9.5m expenses.

As with other local authorities, used by political parties throughout the years as vehicles for featherbedding, Lakatamia’s payroll was one of the main expenses in 2016, reaching €4.2m, up from around €4.1m the previous year.

“It makes up 45 per cent of the revenues,” Makkoulis said. “Accumulated deficits reached €2.5m in December 31, 2016.”

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