President Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday made it clear he would veto two government bills on foreclosures coming up for a vote in the plenum on Friday should the parties go too far in tinkering with them.
He was commenting on the slew of amendments that the parties have drafted and which the government has already warned would dilute safeguards that are intended to penalise bad-faith debtors.
“There are amendments done that do not serve those [debtors] truly in need. Strategic defaulters taking advantage of any delays [in adjudging court cases] is one thing, and people in real need of support is quite another,” he told journalists when asked if he was worried about Friday’s session of the House plenary.
He added that he hoped the outcome of the vote in the plenum would be such allowing him to sign off on the final version of the bills as passed by parliament.
“Otherwise, I cannot sign something that would put our country at risk. Whenever we jeopardise the economy, our country’s credibility, this creates problems with an adverse chain reaction,” the president said.
The first of the government bills concerns authorising the supreme court to appoint judges to fast-track cases where mortgagors challenge foreclosure proceedings against their property. It relates to primary residences with a value of up to €350,000, as well as small business premises.
The second bill gives expanded powers to the Financial Ombudsman.
The government had introduced the bills in a bid to stave off the parties tabling their own amendments to the legislation governing home repossessions – amendments which would effectively give mortgagors a wide berth to stymie a foreclosures process in court.
But despite the administration’s attempt to get ahead of this, the parties have nevertheless come up with a series of amendments of their own.
Back in November banks and loan-buying companies agreed to not put any primary residence, valued up to €350,000, up for auction until the end of the year.
It was seen as a quid pro quo with the government, which had earlier pleaded with political parties not to pass legislation suspending the foreclosures law and instead wait for the government to come up with a new legal framework protecting residences.