The upcoming European parliament and local government elections will be “a challenge”, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday, but added he was confident they would be carried out smoothly.

Speaking to reporters before a regional meeting with community council leaders of villages in the Paphos district, Ioannou said that preparations ahead of the elections are already underway.

“Additional staff have already been hired and information campaigns for voters have been rolled out,” he said.

“That said, no matter how well prepared we are, it will be different on election day.”

Meanwhile, Ioannou said he will meet community council leaders across Cyprus until the days of the elections.

The aim, as Ioannou explained, “is to identify and solve potential organisational problems and evaluate the communities’ readiness in light of local government reform”.

“We are a few weeks away [from the elections], and, as we have said many times, especially for small communities, we are certain that the local government reform will be beneficial to all.”

Cyprus will see the creation of 30 ‘local clusters’ (a new type of public-law organisation) for 286 communities – those not merged with municipalities.

The clusters will provide aggregated services (collection and general waste management, secretariat provision, accounting and technical services). These administrative bodies will provide a wider range of services and will support the community councils in discharging their obligations.

“Recently, the Council of Ministers approved the granting of an additional €3 million in aid to cover the payroll costs resulting from the hiring of scientific personnel by the community clusters,” Ioannou said.

“This money is purely for payroll, the additional cost resulting from the hiring of personnel to staff the clusters.”