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Cyprus

Minister lashes out at municipal ‘kingdoms’ fighting reform

Constantinos Petrides: 'The kingdoms have started the attack to prevent the reform the country needs'

Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides charged on Wednesday that certain local authorities, which he did not name, have started gathering signatures against merging with other municipalities as part of reforms advanced by the government.

In a message on Twitter, Petrides said certain municipalities have started asking anyone who visits them to oppose the move.

“The kingdoms started the attack to prevent the reform the country needs,” the minister said of the municipalities in question.

Petrides has been pushing for a reform of local authorities, which entailed clustering the excessive number of municipalities, 30, and 350 separate community councils. There are also nine so-called refugee municipalities, which also cost taxpayers.

In July last year, the government decided to use around €185m of taxpayer money to bail out indebted local authorities.

The move has raised eyebrows as they are viewed as a bottomless pit, used by political parties throughout the years as vehicles for featherbedding, without providing quality services and serving to worsen bureaucracy in certain cases, like construction.

Local authorities are plagued by several problems, as highlighted in successive reports by the auditor-general.

They include cashflow problems, big delays in debt collections, loans in excess of €300m for some, failure to submit accounts within the period specified by law, non-existent audit procedures and debts to pension funds in excess of €150m.

 

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