Lawmakers on Thursday slammed the brakes on local authorities’ ability to automatically raise water supply fees by up to 14 per cent, arguing that the central government should step in to plug any revenue gaps.

At the House interior affairs committee, MPs amended legislation relating to the new system of local government. They amended one law in particular by striking out a clause that allowed local authorities to hike water rates by up to 14 per cent regardless of a household’s consumption.

Speaking to the media later, committee chair Aristos Damianou said local authorities will need to look at their balance sheets and, where any fee increases are necessary, they should ask the state for support.

Asked whether MPs would attempt a similar constraint in relation to garbage collection fees, Damianou said only that this was up to the House environment committee.

“As for us in the interior affairs committee, our unanimous view is that the reform of local government should not entail a hike in fees and, if the need does arise for such hikes, it should be done in consultation with the central state, so that the state subsidises local government, rather than have citizens pick up the tab.”

On a separate issue, the committee amended another law that allows municipalities to retain responsibility over dangerous buildings until early October.

Normally this function and responsibility should have been transferred from the municipalities to the new district-level entities as of July 1, when the new system of local government kicks in.

But it was decided that the district-level entities are not yet ready to take on this function. As such, they will take charge of dangerous buildings as of October 1.