The outgoing government appeared to have opted for a political joke as its parting shot. Wednesday’s last meeting of the cabinet under President Anastasiades authorised Interior Minister Nicos Nouris to make public the Akamas Regional Plan, “with a six-month suspension in the implementation of its provisions, until, that is, 1 September 2023, so as to investigate the capacity of dealing further with the other two targets of the plan.”
What kind of plan can it be when its provisions cannot be implemented for six months? In reality, it is a non-plan, a fantasy that only exists in theory and can be chopped and changed beyond recognition over the next six months when its implementation would be prohibited. Although all the strategic objectives, set out by the commissioning report were satisfied, “it was not possible to satisfy, to the same extent, the strategic objectives related to the economic and social aspect of the development plan,” said Nouris after the meeting.
In the six months of non-implementation, when the white zone would apply, Nouris said it was expected that the region’s conditions would be evaluated and relevant studies undertaken to make specific the measures to satisfy the socio-economic objectives that have been set. It suffices to say that work on the plan, started in 2016, and almost seven years later it remains incomplete, although the government had been saying it was completed – needing only a few final touches – for several months now.
It was obvious that the delay in announcing the plan was that too many communities and interest groups were unhappy, primarily with restrictions placed on development, and were applying pressure on the government and political parties to make changes. Nothing was going to be finalised in the run-up to presidential elections, so the Anastasiades government decided to bequeath the decision-making on the economic and social aspect of the development plan to its successor.
The public bickering, protests, horse-trading and other shenanigans, by small and big landowners wanting to protect their interests, are now set to continue for at least another six months. Nobody cannot rule out the possibility of the new government continuing the joke, suspending implementation for another year or two, given the mantra of the president-elect for consultations with the public on major decisions.
After 10 years in power, President Anastasiades never learnt the basic rule of government. No government decision will satisfy everyone, and any attempt to do so is guaranteed to lead to no decision or political jokes like the suspension of implementing the Akamas plan.