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Who will pay the compensation?
Natura Vs Affordability
25 March 2018
The Cyprus Government has embarked into the classification of parts of the island into Natura area, where the land remains as is and no development/change of any kind is allowed. So the various “wise teams” of planners, pressure groups (including the Green party) and others, suggest all sorts of areas to be included in such a classification, since they do not come up with compensation payments to the affected property owners themselves.
Well done and lovely we say classifying as natura as much as possible in Cyprus. But some people forget the provision of the Cypriot constitution which stipulates that “any decisions by the Government which reduces the economic value of the property the affected owners should be compensated”. This provision does not exist in other countries and if we are to adopt the unwritten British constitution, that “the land belongs to God and the Queen/King who is the administrator of his estate on his behalf”, that would have been O.K.
But circumstances in Cyprus are very-very different. So far, every decision that the Government makes to the negative value of one’s property, it should compensate the owners. Bearing in mind that just about everywhere, land in Cyprus has “some development potential” (be it agricultural or otherwise) it means that the Government must pay. But then, who is the Cyprus Government? No one, but all of us, who will be called upon to pay for land compensation amounts by increasing our taxes etc. So, there is a unique for Cyprus water snake at Paralimni (dead) lake. The Government has placed a Natura order for 1.400.000 sq.mts. in order to preserve it. Well done, we say again, but then we, the rest, must come up with a compensation of around €50 mil. (could the Government not fence of an area of say 200.000 sq.mts. and place the snake there in a fully fenced site etc?).
The Akamas area is another one, for which we will be called upon to compensate the owners in excess of €200.000.000. If we are to add various other areas, including those which surround some ancient monuments areas (the only ones which we can offer some sort of an excuse) of approximately €50 mil. (see Amathusia area), one wonders where will money come from. Is it logical for example to have the whole of Latchi beach to become a Natura area (the Akamas in addition), when all over the same beach there are hotels and holiday home projects? To our objections, we were told that in the area some seals were seen in the past. So, we will pay something like €7.0 mil. in hope that the seals will be there, notwithstanding that the whole area other than isolated plots are developed.
It is beyond us how the Government at the time and the various “green” pressure groups have lead us to this, and at times when the Government cannot afford to pay compensation for major projects such as the Pafos-Polis motorway, the Limassol-Lania motorway etc etc (and if it cannot afford to pay, it is charged with a 4% interest p.a.). The other day a distressed land owner whose land was compulsorily acquired for the Pafos-Polis road, got a court order to sell the furniture/equipment of the Pafos Lands Office because his compensation (agreed) was not paid!! Imagine therefore what will happen when these extra millions in compensation are due and the Government cannot afford it.
We all want to have an expensive car, but if we cannot afford it, what do we do? We either buy a bicycle or at best a “mini”, but with this situation which we are experiencing, with the Cypriot economy, with a mathematical calculation will run out of money and become a joke of the E.U., since we chose to live beyond our means. If one is to examine what is happening in Greece and Ireland with the strict conditions for loan bailout by the E.U., one might weight unemployment and hardships vis-à-vis retaining some of the land as is.
Yes, the Minister of the Interior is highly respected by us and many others, but then this is very serious situation because it touches the Cypriot economy, something for which our new generation will be called upon to pay for the rest of its life (is the Minister of Finance told of the situation??). Are we being alarmist and unreasonable? Perhaps for other countries without such a provisions in the constitution, but we will be landed with a total bill which amounts in our estimate in excess of €300 mil. and which must be paid over the next 2-4 years, it is a cause for worry.
In our objections to such a high spending policies, we were told by the at time Ministry of the Interior, that instead of cash, owners will be offered (their choice) unexpended building density rights, which they could then sell/transfer to other property in the island. Not only there is very little demand for such rights (see the building density offered for the preserved buildings and which is not taken up) but also it will upset planning policy since “your neighbor” by buying/transfer building density from somewhere else, it can increase the size of a building and perhaps the storey height. So, no one will know now how the immediate area will develop in the future and this contrary to local town planning zoning.
What a mess indeed.