The justice ministry’s budget for 2021 has seen a slight increase by about €8 million compared to this year, with the lion’s share of expenses going to payroll.
Presenting the balance sheet in parliament, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis said the budget for 2021 comes to €339 million, compared to €331 million this year.
Of the €339 million, €275 million will be allocated to payroll. This line item is around five per cent higher than it was in 2020.
The remainder – €63.9 million – consists of recurring costs.
A breakdown of the ministry’s budget shows that €5.09 million goes to administrative expenses; €22.9 million to the department of prisons; €270 million to the police; €40.4 million to the fire department; and €1.17 million to the State Lottery.
On road safety, and beyond the recent introduction of more severe penalties on driving violations, Yiolitis pledged that a traffic camera system would be up and running soon. Around €6.7 million has been allocated to the police to this end.
Funds have been made available for equipment enhancements, such as upgrading the police’s wireless communications system from analogue to digital, and the purchase of drones. Other expenses involve upgrades to the central prison’s security systems.
And the ministry has allocated €8.9 million for the purchase of boats for the port and marine police. This expenditure will be covered by the interior ministry’s European Funds Unit.
Yiolitis said the government has invested in beefing up infrastructure, with the construction of three new buildings serving as police district headquarters for Paphos, Morphou and Famagusta, as well as for two state-of-the-art fire stations in Limassol and Vasilikos.
The Lakatamia fire station will be relocated to another site within an inhabited area, and a new fire station is to be built in Ayia Napa.
On the reforms side, Yiolitis informed MPs that a government bill aiming to establish an anti-corruption authority would be submitted to parliament next week.
Other legislation is in the pipeline to promote the practice of e-justice, as well as changes streamlining civil law procedural rules helping clear the backlog in court cases.
The ministry also intends to establish an internal affairs department within the police, to examine acts or omissions by members of the force that might constitute corruption or abuse of power.
Taking questions from the media later, Yiolitis said she understands that the coronavirus-related restrictions are inconveniencing the public.
All countries with similar restrictions have had to improvise along the way, meaning that some degree of inconvenience is inevitable.
Regarding the police checkpoints on the roads between Limassol and Paphos – which are in lockdown -Yiolitis said that from the beginning she personally went on site and saw the long queues of cars.
That was why a decision was made for police to conduct random spot-checks rather than stop all vehicles.
“As I’ve said before, we’re not looking for criminals here. We are checking people who travel between the [two] cities. I trust that people themselves realise that they should keep their movements in these districts to a minimum.”