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Cyprus

More co-ordination needed over refugee loans, MPs hear

Skevi Koukouma

MPs on Tuesday called for more coordination between the Co-op Central Bank and the Loan Commissioners to treat all refugees who received loans as part of a scheme to help them get back on their feet after the 1974 invasion equally, as almost half of debtors have died and many are over 80 and unable to settle their outstanding balance.

The House committee on refugees discussed the outstanding loans given between 1974 and 1984 to displaced persons amounting to €8m but which have risen to €17.5m due to the accumulated interest.

According to the head of the committee, Akel’s Skevi Koukouma, 7,628 loans were given out, almost half of which remain outstanding. Of these, “46 per cent of borrowers have died, and 20 per cent are over 80 years old and there is no way for a repayment procedure”, she said.

But another group of refugees who received loans amounting to €6.5m during the same period by the Loan Commissioners, Koukouma said, were treated differently. Subsequent legislation allowed the Loan Commissioners to make arrangements for these loans, even write-offs, “while the loans given by the Co-Op have remained stagnant without any regulation being promoted.

“The Loan Commissioners should coordinate with the Co-Op Central Bank to find the solution so that those who received loans from the Co-Op are treated equally to those who received loans from the commissioners,” she said.

These loans concern schemes for the support of refugee fishermen, for displaced persons to install water pumps on Turkish Cypriot plots, for the creation of recreation centres at the Mackenzie area in Larnaca, for the re-activation of displaced hotels, and loan schemes involving the reactivation of owners of higher education institutions.

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