Following the bad management of the Cyprus economy, which led to the eocnomic crisis, the initial response from politicians (who of course are primarily themselves to blame) was lukewarm when it came to investigating the cause. Now we seem to be experiencing the other extreme: everybody is investigating everybody else for wrongdoings Whoever has a complaint goes to the press and the auditor general who enthusiastically takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes.
This is of course a positive thing. Investigating all past wrongdoings will lead to less of them in the future. The problem is that we are investigating individual cases and not the root of the problem, ie the corrupt political parties, who are in the pockets of foreign and local business people, the ex-governors of the central bank, who have a share of the blame. We have found out about heads of public authorities doing all sorts of backhanded deals, with two mayors in prison and another one under investigation.
It will take time for the country to change course but we hope the system will raise its standards for the benefit of current citizens and the generations to follow.
The government is like a racing horse who wants to race, but is ridden by a jockey (the civil service) who does not know what it is doing. Radical solutions to problems, such as those facing the real estate industry, cannot happen when a minister is not conversant with all the matters in the ministry and has limited time, with a civil service of this quality.
The changes that we suggest are:
- Applying for a new building amnesty should be trimmed down to a simple procedure and be processed within three months.
- The compensation paid for building amnesty be reduced by 80 per cent.
- Minor illegalities and irregularities should be overlooked so that the issue of deeds is not delayed.
- The certificate of final approval to be replaced by a certificate of security. This will solve thousands of existing and potential problems, since as the law is now, no building can be occupied without the certificate of final approval.
- Mayors and councils should be held legally responsible for delays and for permitting illegal structures.
- The establishment of an internal ‘ombudsman’ who people can apply to on various matters and expect an answer within 30 days.
- Immediate change of the common expenses law in order to force non-payers to pay. As it stands at present those who don’t pay are protected, forcing those who do to cover them.
- Building incentives should be extended at least till the end of the year (2023). The directive on this changed from one day to the next, leaving a lot of people out in the cold.
- Financiers who are not adhering to the ‘road map’ provided by the central bank should be dealt with immediately. Long and inexcusable delays will make matters worse regarding loan restructuring.
These are some of the issues that we have raised, and intend to keep nagging the government for more reforms, though it seems that the petty politics on the island will not let it happen.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Estate Agents & Property Consultants, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]