Justice Minister Stephie Dracou on Friday listed seven strategic goals as part of the presentation of her ministry’s 2023 budget to the House finance committee.
The goals concern justice, prevention and fighting corruption, modernising family law, human rights, public order and civil security, the prisons and safeguarding the state’s public records, she said, adding that anti-corruption actions were high on the agenda.
Next year’s budget for the ministry, amounting to €388.5 million is ten per cent higher than last year’s €353.1, while development expenditure, has been increased by 56 per cent year-on-year, Dracou said. According to the presentation, €23.4 million is marked for development in 2023 compared with €15 this year.
The majority of the of 2023 budget for justice ministry, 78.12 per cent, will be dedicated to the police force with another 13 per cent or €50.7 million to the fire service, 7.16 per cent or €27.8 million to the prison.
The remaining €4.9 million and €1.6 million are provided for the ministry’s administration and state archive respectively.
Concerning the administration, some €785,200 will be dedicated in 2023 for the creation of a detection centre for minors and young people aged 16 to 21 in conflict with law, €500,000 for an anti-corruption grant scheme, €411,000 for a driver training school, €330,000 for the establishment of council for the release of prisoners on parole, €290,000 for annual grants to women’s organisations.
Another €190,000 from the budget will fund the Istanbul Convention coordinating body and €100,000 for road safety awareness campaigns.
The main actions for 2022-2023 of the corruption action plan 2021-2026 include the audit units in ministries and deputies ministries, organising training programmes in ministries and departments for corruption issues, and the provision of incentives to the public and wider public sector for the implementation of anti-bribery, anti-corruption and reporting mechanisms.
Among the justice related projects for 2023 is a programme to deal with case backlogs, the implementation of new civil procedure rules and e-justice as well as the establishment of court service. The acoustic digital preservation of proceedings system which will be completed by 2025 will also start next year while draft laws will be prepared for faster adjudication of small claims cases.
Following the establishment of the new district Famagusta court in Paralimni amounting to €9.6 million this year, in 2023 the tender for the new Nicosia district court with a budget of €119 million will be launched. Repairs are also scheduled to Limassol and Larnaca district courts among other infrastructure projects.
The budget also includes eight bills for the modernisation of family law as well as the preparation of the first national action plan for the prevention and combating of violence against women 2023-2028 and archive of all statistical data on all forms of violence.
Under the new budget, 119 new positions have been approved for the police in addition to the recruitment of 300 contract staff. A €1.2 million study will also be carried out to reorganise the force.
Police procedures will be digitised with a €2 million DIGIPOL project, the purchase of a digital radio communication system for €1 million, while various improvements to police buildings will also be carried out.
Another 191 new positions have been approved for the fire service in 2023, while new fire stations will be constructed in Ayia Napa, Pachna, Pedoulas and Eptagonia totalling almost €3 million. In total 17 fire stations will get an energy upgrade and €3.3 million will be used to purchase fire engines.
A state-of-the-art coordination centre is also included in the budget for €6.2 million.