The president has referred part of the newly passed law on municipal reform back to the House over the section on the Akamas, saying it was the job of the executive branch of government, not parliament, to determine local authority boundaries.
After years of discussion and haggling, MPs early this month approved three local government reform bills aimed at creating more efficient local authorities. Changes include reducing the number of municipalities from 30 to 20 and the clustering of local councils.
The section of the new law now under dispute by the palace relates to communities in the Akamas area that were split up under the new landscape which is due to come into force in 2024.
Under the new provisions, some of the Akamas communities come under an enlarged Polis Chrysochous municipality, and others under Peyia instead of all coming under a new Akamas municipality.
This arrangement has irked Akamas community leaders because they said that their communities had agreed three years ago to a 13-strong cluster. Instead, without any consultation, they have now been split into three.
In his referral letter to House speaker Annita Demetriou, President Nicos Anastasiades said the administrative proposal for the creation of municipalities or their amalgamation or abolition falls within the scope of competence of the executive branch.
The reasons for the referral state that with the application of the returned provisions, a possible administrative division and or separation of seven communities and the incorporation of some of them into the new municipality of Akamas and the rest into the municipality of Polis Chrysochous, “may cause serious administrative, practical, urban, social, economic and operational problems in the future development of communities”, according to the president.
At the same time, it refers to the risk that the new law would allow for the unequal treatment of affected residents, and to the fact that in some instances it could lead to the circumvention of urban planning of the wider area.
“It has not been documented by the legislature, how it is responsible for the creation of a new municipality or municipalities and the definition of their administrative boundaries,” the letter said.
It is also stated that the returned provisions were not only inconsistent, but contradicted the essential purpose of local government reform, which is defined as the creation of “dynamic and functional administrative units capable of meeting their increased responsibilities”.