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President announces more projects for Limassol

New projects budgeted at €70 million for Limassol were announced by President Nicos Anastasiades during a meeting with local municipalities at the Limassol town hall on Thursday.

In a speech, Anastasiades said his presence aimed at reviewing progress on the last batch of projects he had announced in 2015, so that progress on any outstanding ones can be made, and announcing new projects aiming to improve the quality of life for Limassol residents.

The cost of the new projects, he said, add up to a total €70.2 million, not including €22 million from the Strategic Sustainable Development programme.

On the issue of a new football stadium for Limassol, the president said that, following multiple issues that have come up, the cabinet decided on July 19 to assign construction to the Cyprus Sports Organisation, at a cost of €28.2 million, with invitations of tenders expected by the end of September.

The government will also shoulder the cost of a €4-million expansion of the road network serving the new stadium.

Initial plans to have the three Limassol clubs – Apollon, Ael, Aris – pay for the stadium via government-guaranteed loans stumbled on objections by the Audit Service and the state-aid commissioner’s office, who argued this would be tantamount to state aid.

In his speech, Anastasiades also lambasted those who voiced criticism for the government’s decision to pay off all outstanding government-guaranteed loans taken out by local authorities to the tune of €178 million.

Most criticism focused on the government’s failure to demand reform from municipalities in return for the bailout, which was seen as a departure from prudent fiscal policy adopted thus far.

“I would like to inform you of the cabinet decision by which the government undertakes to repay guaranteed loans of local authorities to the tune of €178 million – and not €185 million, as mistakenly announced during my visit to Larnaca,” he said.

“In particular, municipalities in the Limassol district will be relieved of loans totaling €48.2 million, while local councils will benefit to the tune of €1.1 million.”

This decision, he added, will allow municipalities and councils to funnel funds to projects of common interest.

“And because, in addition to the local government bodies welcoming the decision, some have complained about it, let me make some clarifications,” Anastasiades said.

“Firstly, the decision relates only to loans guaranteed by the government, which have been spent on development projects, and for which the state anyway has the ultimate responsibility to repay. Secondly, the decision is in no way a departure from the fiscal discipline we have adopted at all times, since it reduces the state’s exposure to fiscal risks, as these loans are guaranteed and counted as part of the national debt.”

Lastly, the president noted, in order to avoid seeing the same issues of the past come up again, “I would like to appeal to local authorities and parliament to expedite deliberations for the introduction of local government reform.”

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