CYPRUS Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis rounded on parliament blaming it for dithering over a Title Deed amnesty and therefore trapping thousands of home owners.
“Before thousands of citizens I am accusing some MPs of trying to thwart the reforms envisaged by the government instead of protecting the public interest,” Sylikiotis told reporters.
“Despite the public pledge from House President Marios Garoyian… that the House would approve three of the bills discussed it was then decided to postpone again,” he added.
With growing frustration that one of the government’s key policy issues is seemingly the victim of an election year Sylikiotis also blamed coalition partners Diko for dragging their feet.
He said thousands of buyers were left to wait longer after being unjustly left in the lurch for years.
The minister said three of the five bills already discussed could be passed without affecting the remaining two.
He argued that the three bills ready to be voted on would enable thousands to acquire Title Deeds and repair Cyprus’ tarnished reputation among foreign buyers desperate to obtain deeds.
Streamlining town planning regulations and ushering in a Title Deed amnesty has buyers’ rights as its core philosophy.
This is seen as a popular move that would earn the government brownie points during a difficult period.
Sylikiotis claimed a “group of MPs” were “systematically” trying to waylay the process at the committee stage.
Five bills to ease the Title Deed backlog and streamline land registry red tape were tabled to the House last year and had cross-party support which makes the delay even more puzzling. There was also a lengthy consultation process before the bills were even tabled.
Nevertheless, opposition Disy vice president Ionas Nicolaou denied there had been any deliberate delay on behalf of parliament as the bills had gaps in them which needed rectifying.
The proposals aim to better regulate the property sector by streamlining the issuing of Title Deeds and introducing a town planning amnesty for those who have infringed on building regulations.
Modernising the property permit system and easing the logjam would also see a steady flow of much needed cash into empty state coffers, not to mention giving home owners piece of mind.
It is believed that more than 100,000 applications are snared over town planning disputes and that once the laws are passed around 20,000 Title Deeds could be issued annually.
Estimated government revenue for each Title Deed issued is €7,000 on average.
Tweaking town planning and property licensing is seen as the best way of bolstering confidence in Cyprus real estate among foreign buyers especially now the market is struggling.
New legislation will enable the authorities to issue different types of Title Deeds to speed up a complicated system.
A key element is to approve Title Deed issues where they have been held up by minor infractions.
The property owner will be able to pay a cash penalty to legalise the infraction and receive the Title Deed.
Legislation also seeks to better protect buyers from unscrupulous contractors.