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AG rebuffs auditor-general’s claim of squandering money

Attorney-general George Savvides

Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides on Wednesday sought to set the record straight after auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides slammed the proposed plan for a new legal service building.

Earlier in the day, daily Phileleftheros published parts of a letter Michaelides addressed to the head of the public works department, where he accused the legal service of attempting to proceed with a legally dodgy construction plan.

In his letter, Michaelides said that the new building to house the legal service would stand at 13 floors in an area where only six are permitted.

In a plan approved by the previous cabinet, the building is projected to stand at 50 metres, when only 24 are permitted in the area, he added.

Michaelides said that based on the cost of the project and the number of legal service personnel, the capital cost including VAT amounts to €133,875 per employee.

The above constitutes a misuse of the requested areas, “exploiting the cost of the building to unnecessary heights, a practice that does not ensure the public interest,” he said.

He also pointed out that instead of preparing an environmental study, as requested by the environment department, the public works department “illegally promoted the project and issued a call for tenders”.

Since there were no provisions for the preparation of a normal environmental study, as it will be assigned to the contractor, the auditor general recommended the cancellation of the tender, making references to the squandering of public money.

“In view of the above, we express our strong concern because a construction plan worth €45 million plus VAT was prepared, based on completely incorrect data, since neither the public works department, nor the legal service, as the user, were interested in receiving the provisions of the current development plan from the town planning department,” he wrote.

Later in the day, the legal service issued a statement penned by the attorney general in response.

“The design and specifications for the new legal service building were drawn up by the legally competent department of public works, which, with the know-how and expertise of its officials, plans and supervises the implementation of this type of development project,” Savvides said.

He added that he has been informed that the public works department will respond to each point addressed in the auditor general’s letter, and will be shared with the finance and transport ministers, and officials in the environment and town planning departments.

“It saddens me to note that once again, before hearing back from the relevant government services and departments, the auditor general is following his favourite tactic of making public his reports, letters and observations presenting only the views of his office, in a way that negatively shapes public opinion to the detriment of those it occasionally targets,” Savvides said.

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