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Development projects the focus of interior ministry 2023 budget

migrants gather outside the kokkinotrimithia refugee camp on the outskirts of nicosia

A little over a third of the interior ministry’s budget for 2023 will go to development projects, as the administration works to push through a number of reforms, including in local government and in the issuance of building permits and property titles, MPs heard on Monday.

Speaking in parliament, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said development projects account for €242 million, or 36 per cent of the total balance sheet. Non-recurring expenditures come to €401 million.

In relation to the largest projects on the way, he cited the new centre hosting asylum seekers to be located at the ‘Limnes’ area in Menoyia, earth stabilisation works in Pissouri, and the construction of Alexandroupolis Avenue in Strovolos, improvements on Tseri Street in Strovolos, the widening of Evagora Lanitis Avenue in Limassol, and parking spaces in the centre of Paralimni.

On reforms in town planning and building licensing, the minister said the new fast-track process has seen 3,700 permits issued out of 4,341 applications. As of September 15, the fast-track process had been expanded to include up to four residences or up to 20 residential apartments, as well as for mixed-use developments of up to 1,000 square meters.

These specific reforms were obligations undertaken by Cyprus in its national recovery and resilience plan.

Moving on to the issue of asylum seekers, Nouris informed MPs that from the beginning of the year until October, authorities have received 18,345 applications. Currently, the number of people having received protection status amounts to 6 per cent of the population.

The government is working hard to decongest hosting facilities for asylum seekers, including through a programme of voluntary return with financial incentives. To this end the ministry has created a Returns Bureau, which has managed some 7,000 returns so far this year.

Nouris expressed his gratitude to the European Commission on the signing of four memorandums of understanding providing support to Cyprus on this matter. The EU has also provided financing to the tune of €67.5 million for the building of the new centre for asylum seekers.

“The Republic has made herculean efforts on the issue of hosting [asylum seekers],” said Nouris.

“But our capabilities are not limitless. That is why I reiterate – we have no hesitation to provide assistance and support to those truly in need, to genuine refugees, as we did in the case of the Ukrainians…but those who abuse our asylum system and are denied, must be returned to their countries of origin.”

 

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