Fines, not de­mo­li­tion, for homes

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Five days af­ter tak­ing over from Tina Bir­bili at the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry, for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gior­gos Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou has pre­pared plans to al­low own­ers of il­le­gal homes to pay a fine to pro­tect their home from de­mo­li­tion, a scheme that his pre­de­ces­sor had ve­he­mently op­posed.

Kathimerini has seen Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou’s blue­print for giv­ing il­le­gally built homes some­thing just short of legal sta­tus. Home­own­ers who pay the fines, the size of which has yet to be set, would pro­tect their prop­er­ties from the threat of de­mo­li­tion for be­tween 30 and 40 years. The reg­u­la­tions will vary slightly de­pend­ing on whether the home has been built with­out a per­mit or if it has failed to com­ply with townplanning rules, or both.

The scheme is very sim­i­lar to the one in­tro­duced by the gov­ern­ment last year, which al­lowed home­own­ers to de­clare il­le­gally al­tered parts of their prop­er­ties, know in Greece as “imiy­paithrioi,” to pre­vent them from penal­ties for the next 40 years.

In both cases, the gov­ern­ment had con­sid­ered schemes to al­low the homes to be made to­tally legal but the Greek Con­sti­tu­tion does not per­mit it. The imiy­paithrioi scheme proved a sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue earner for the gov­ern­ment but Bir­bili had op­posed the same prin­ci­ple be­ing ap­plied to il­le­gal prop­er­ties, many of which have been built in wooded ar­eas or forests. Bir­bili had in­sisted that those who broke the law so fla­grantly should not be let off.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment’s des­per­ate need for rev­enues – which Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou knows full well since he was in charge of fis­cal pol­icy un­til last Fri­day – means that the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry will now pro­ceed with the scheme, which has been de­bated by Greek gov­ern­ments since the early 1980s.

It is not yet clear how much home­own­ers will be asked to pay to pro­tect their prop­er­ties from fur­ther penal­ties or de­mo­li­tion, but it is likely that the time frame they will be given to sub­mit their pa­per­work will be six to eight months.

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