A protracted session awaits the House plenary on Thursday as it grapples with more than 60 amendments to the long-delayed local government reform legislation.
The three bills are expected to be put to the vote after years of debate in parliament and tortuous discussions on how to streamline Cyprus’ much-fragmented system of local authorities by merging municipalities and local councils.
The Cyprus News Agency reports that many of the 60 amendments concern the composition of the new municipalities and community councils after their merger, with the outcome still in flux.
The first law aims to give municipalities administrative and financial autonomy so as to be viable, while the second would allow local councils to pool resources for services such as rubbish collection, traffic and cleanliness. The third law would create district clusters to manage water provision and waste, among other services.
Amendments address one of the key bones of contention — which municipalities will merge with which – therefore determining their final number.
Another cause for dispute is whether referendums should be held at each municipality as to its future – something the government has resisted.
Akel, Edek and the Greens have teamed up to propose local referendums while Diko is proposing a single, pancyprian vote where voters in affected municipalities and communities are asked about all the proposed mergers.
Akel has submitted a separate proposed amendment requiring cabinet to call referendums by March 31, 2023.
Diko and Edek propose removing the provision that will transfer to the municipalities responsibilities currently exercised by school boards while Diko is suggesting four additional municipal councillors at new municipalities.
The Greens are proposing municipal councillors be elected by direct proportional representation.