A wel­come devel­op­ment, but who will im­ple­ment it?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

It was a plea­sure to re­view the last de­cree of the In­te­rior Min­is­ter on the is­sue of the fi­nal ap­proval cer­tifi­cate for the con­struc­tion sec­tor. As known, with­out this penul­ti­mate “pa­per” ti­tle deeds can not be is­sued.

It may seem a stan­dard pro­ce­dure, but un­for­tu­nately the law states that no build­ing can be oc­cu­pied with­out the Fi­nal Cer­tifi­cate of Ap­proval (PTE), re­sult­ing in the holder may be obliged to de­mol­ish it, for which there are mul­ti­ple de­ci­sions is­sued by the Dis­trict Courts.

But who builds any­thing nowa­days with all the nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion al­ready ap­proved? We will add add some­thing, a garage, a small wall will be higher than stan­dard, a bar­be­cue, etc., ie. the usual ex­cesses, which are not so fun­da­men­tal. The main rea­son is that from the date of com­ple­tion of the build­ing un­til the is­suance of the PTE it takes a long time, usu­ally 2-3 years and in the mean­time the owner may make some changes. And if you dare to ap­ply to get these changes ap­proved with a new ap­pli­ca­tion for a per­mit, this re­quires a fur­ther 2-3 years. The bu­reau­cratic sys­tem is such that be­cause of the de­lays it en­cour­ages own­ers to re­sort to ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

The prob­lem with the PTEs is much more se­ri­ous than the In­te­rior Min­istry be­lieves. This is be­cause:

• At least 50% of the fin­ished build­ings do not have one, in par­tic­u­lar pri­vate houses.

• Mi­nor ex­ten­sions that are now cov­ered by the 20% in­crease of the build­ing co­ef­fi­cient or about 60 sq.m. should not re­quire a new ap­pli­ca­tion start­ing from scratch. The com­pe­tent author­ity should au­to­mat­i­cally is­sue the per­mit.

• It is wrong for the PTE be is­sued in con­junc­tion with oc­cu­pancy, but should be re­placed in­stead with a Safety Cer­tifi­cate of the build­ing by the ar­chi­tect or con­sul­tant of the project to en­sure that struc­turally it is okay. The PTE should be is­sued by the ar­chi­tect as part of the whole ti­tle is­su­ing process (and for this I have a dif­fer­ent point of view) and with­out the in­volve­ment of the au­thor­i­ties.

I ask the In­te­rior Min­is­ter: why does the new de­cree cover only res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments (and those that were com­pleted by the year 2014?). So, ho­tels should be ex­cluded as are restau­rants, shops and of­fice blocks? What is the rea­son? Un­der the ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion, if a ho­tel does not have the PTE it may not be oc­cu­pied by tourists and there­fore it will have to close. And sup­pose that some­one in­forms the tour op­er­a­tors that the ho­tels are il­le­gally oc­cu­pied, will these in­ter­na­tional agen­cies not aban­don Cyprus as a des­ti­na­tion?

• The Min­is­ter was very right to is­sue the rel­e­vant de­cree al­beit very re­stric­tive, but who will tell the civil ser­vants at the same min­istry to in­ter­pret these reg­u­la­tions more lib­er­ally? One such case was the Town Plan­ning Amnesty is­sued by the Town Plan­ning Author­ity fol­lowed by state­ments for im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion but with lib­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

How­ever hard the State tries to ac­cel­er­ate the is­sue of ti­tle deeds, this is not fea­si­ble, be­cause the whole bu­reau­cracy is flimsy and the rest is a sim­ple patch up job that does not help achieve the tar­get.

De­spite the ef­forts of the Min­is­ter him­self and the gen­uine in­ter­est of this gov­ern­ment, we are in a hope­less sit­u­a­tion.

In a re­cent ar­ti­cle I com­mented on “How to drive away in­vestors in Cyprus.”

A for­eign in­vestor with funds in ex­cess of EUR 100 mln is con­sid­er­ing to leave, even though he and his fam­ily have been es­tab­lished here for 40 years and his daugh­ter has mar­ried a Cypriot. I have sent three warn­ing letters about this prob­lem, but even though the min­is­ter gladly re­sponded, there was noth­ing from the other state of­fi­cials. I would love to pub­li­cise the is­sue in the press, but I am pre­vents by our client con­fi­den­tial­ity.

So, this is an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble sit­u­a­tion in which a num­ber of In­te­rior Min­istry of­fi­cials are pre­pared to put water in their wine and get things done, while oth­ers have ex­actly the op­po­site at­ti­tude (and this is true of gen­eral managers or other civil ser­vants at a lower scale).

How can we deal with such at­ti­tudes when we are faced with such sit­u­a­tions?

I’d like to hear from our read­ers.

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