It seems that despite the initial lukewarm response from politicians to a proper investigation into the mismanagement of the Cypriot economy (many of whom have only themselves to blame), we are now facing the other extreme where everyone is investigating everyone for wrongdoing.
Whoever has a complaint will take it to the press and then to the Auditor General, who, like a man full of enthusiasm, takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes. This is good, and the reason for investigating past misdeeds is to prevent them in the future. The problem is that we are investigating individual cases, not the essence of the problem, that is, corrupt political parties that profit from foreign and local businessmen, former Central Bank governors.
Now we hear about heads of government making all sorts of ambiguous deals with mayors going to jail and others under investigation. The problem with this situation is that no one dares to make a decision, fearing that they, too, will be suspected of something.
Should we then abandon such studies? Of course not, but such publicity creates a bad reputation for the country as corrupt, which can be no worse than in other countries. This is because word of mouth spreads faster in small countries and personal animosity is more obvious – publishing such material helps to blow it up to the limit.I wrote to the Minister of the Interior that this government is like a horse who wants to run, but he has a jockey (public service) on his back who does not know what he is doing and where to run. Radical solutions to the problems of the real estate sector cannot be implemented, since the minister alone, with all the other problems in the ministry and with limited time, cannot deal with the quality of the civil service.
I suggested the following:
• Amnesty for new buildings should be reduced to a simple procedure. The deadline for ensuring this should be within three months.
• Compensation paid under the construction amnesty will be reduced by 80% of the original, especially now that the cost has been reduced and funds are scarce.
• Minor violations – violations that need to be circumvented by more or less automatic relief in order not to delay the issuance of documents.
• The Final Approval Certificate is being replaced by the Building Safety Certificate. This will solve thousands of existing and potential problems. By law, no building can now be occupied without a certificate of final approval.
• Change of name. Everything written in the title should be accepted as correct; otherwise, numerous blocks/projects become illegal through no fault of the developer. Therefore, it only needs one directive.• Legal liability as a criminal offense to be introduced in case of delays by mayors and councilors, as well as for allowing highly illegal structures that are obvious and in plain sight, such as seven containers on the beach near Paralimni that have been converted into houses with no access, water and electricity – but the municipality accepts them.
• Assign an internal documentation type to resolve issues that people can submit and expect a response within 30 days. Applications for any developments that are not considered within 40-90 days (depending on the size of the project) receive automatic approval as they are received.
• Immediate change in the law on general expenses to force non-payers to pay, and not as today, when they are protected, but conscientious payers are punished for covering losses.
• Construction incentives granted at the end of May 2015 will be extended until 2023.
• Non-compliance by financiers with the “road map” provided by the Central Bank must be dealt with immediately. Long and unforgivable delays will exacerbate the situation with the loan restructuring.
Antonis Luazou, real estate appraiser, real estate agent and real estate consultant