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Cyprus

MPs refuse to sanction sale of state land

The former British military living quarters at Berengaria are among the areas the government wants to sell

Opposition MPs on Monday expressed concern over government legislation aiming to sell state land amounting to almost two million square metres.

The matter was discussed at the House interior committee, where MPs were handed a list of 37 land plots.

But the government failed to also submit a report justifying why the tracts are to be sold.

“They are essentially asking us to give them a blank cheque so they can sell any state land today, tomorrow and anytime in the future. This we shall not consent to,” committee chair Eleni Mavrou (Akel) said.

Among the tracts listed are the former British bases Berengaria housing estate in Limassol  preferential lots in Pissouri and Yeroskipou, land next to the interior ministry’s premises in Nicosia, the state fairs grounds in Engomi, and large plots in Aglandja.

One tract in Limassol alone was 1.65 million square metres.

According to Mavrou, when the government bill was initially tabled, the aim was to sell land to the Central Bank as a means of paying down government debt.

But this reason no longer applies, since the government has since reversed the decision to sell to the Central Bank.

MPs have sought explanations from the finance ministry as to the purpose of the proposed sale, but received only vague answers about the need to make the best use of state land, Mavrou said.

Responding to questions, she said the value of all the land plots in question is estimated at €1 billion.

But this was only an educated guess because MPs have not been given access to details.

“Some of the areas [earmarked for sale] will raise some eyebrows,” Mavrou told reporters.

Greens MP George Perdikis said there are reasons to suspect that some of the proposed transactions are geared at serving private special interests such as developers.

“We agree that a credible and transparent mechanism should be set up to manage state land, but under no circumstances will we give the government – and just before the elections no less – this tool to sell off state property.”

 



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