A wake-up call Mr. Min­is­ter

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

I ad­dress this ar­ti­cle to you Mr. Min­is­ter of the In­te­rior (Con­stanti­nos Petrides) due to your re­cent ap­point­ment in this de­mand­ing post and hav­ing no ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence on mat­ters that af­fect the build­ing in­dus­try (with spe­cial regards to own­er­ship and sale of real es­tate). Cer­tain items could be of your in­ter­est. It will be worth it to have a ded­i­cated em­ployee at the Min­istry to study the var­i­ous pro­pos­als that are sug­gested by the pri­vate in­dus­try say on a 6-month ba­sis to ex­am­ine these pro­pos­als and con­cerns that are sug­gested and which you may feel it worth­while ex­plor­ing.

At least as far as we are con­cerned with 36 years first line and not the­o­ret­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, many of our sug­ges­tions which were pro­vided sev­eral years ago, sur­face now at a time which is late and af­ter the event.

For this rea­son, I pro­vide for you a short list of sub­jects which were not ad­dressed by your pre­de­ces­sors and were left to es­ca­late into se­ri­ous prob­lems ap­pear­ing now. Place your mark on in­no­va­tions and try to solve prob­lems that are un­der the car­pet for years and push for­ward new ap­proaches for the in­dus­try.

Yes, you have the Tech­ni­cal Cham­ber of Com­merce (ETEK) as a self-de­ter­mined ad­vi­sor to the state, but other than crit­i­cism and the­o­ret­i­cal dec­la­ra­tions, noth­ing more comes out of it (no sur­prise since the coun­cil of ETEK com­prises pri­mar­ily of civil ser­vants).

Ba­sic short list but there are many other mat­ters:

Com­mon Ex­penses Law

A law which is not work­able, and it is doubt­ful if it is at all un­der­stood. We have pro­vided a full anal­y­sis of our ideas and how this law can work for the ben­e­fit of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try and it is a mat­ter which will come up with in­creas­ing pres­sure, bear­ing in mind the large projects in com­mon own­er­ship such as the high-rise build­ings, mari­nas, golf cour­ses etc. – full pro­posal sub­mit­ted 18 years ago and since then re­peat­edly.

Pri­vate v Pub­lic Swim­ming Pools

A “joke” since no one knows what is a pri­vate and a com­mon pool. If there is a com­mon pool this should have a life­guard, chang­ing rooms, first aid room etc. What is this? It does not work. Our idea was sub­mit­ted 4 years ago and re­peat­edly ever since.

Vil­las to let Airbnb

We re­ported back in the year 2004 about the lack of pol­icy on this. Only re­cently the Gov­ern­ment has wak­ened up on this scam and nowa­days every­body is up­set in­clud­ing the “sleep­ing” Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­ers.

Seashore Pro­tec­tion Zone

The seashore changes over the years and the pre­vail­ing law pro­vides many un­rea­son­able pro­vi­sions. It needs to be read­justed to re­flect the pre­sent cir­cum­stances and in­clude the al­lowance of beach im­prove­ments within the pub­lic zone for pub­lic ben­e­fit. Some plots are now af­fected by 90% of their area, since the time of the ini­tial in­tro­duc­tion.

Plan­ning and build­ing per­mit is­sues

It is just not on in terms of time re­quired for their is­sue. We have pro­vided a pro­posal of pri­va­ti­za­tion which was ad­dressed 8 years ago and re­peat­edly ever since.

Min­i­mum House/Apt size

It just does not make sense to fix a min­i­mum size of a res­i­den­tial unit, caus­ing the mar­ket to build units larger than what peo­ple can af­ford. Pro­pos­als since 1990 and re­peat re­minders.

Plan­ning zones of the 1950’s

Only re­cently there were some changes on this de­spite our 10-year-old pro­posal and now we have gone the other way with sky­scrapers and we have ob­jected to this. The plan­ning pa­ram­e­ters by ar­eas and the quota sys­tem is an in­no­va­tive sug­ges­tion and what is needed to help the lo­cal mar­ket in each district - No re­sponse for 3 years. Now we have some sort of a pro­posal, but it misses the point to­tally.

Stu­dent Halls

A new re­quire­ment but the build­ing reg­u­la­tions re­quire ex­ten­sive re­quire­ments for park­ing and this is the rea­son for the in­vestors holding back (to an ex­tent) much to the dis­tress of for­eign and lo­cal stu­dents.

A waste of a most valu­able as­set by ear­mark­ing plan­ning zones at 20% as if we have the coastal line of Aus­tralia, lim­it­ing beach land only for the wealthy, whereas beach land is re­duc­ing fast against the ben­e­fit of the new gen­er­a­tions (re­ported 4 years ago).

Trees & Green

A pro­posal to re­place trees in wooded ar­eas in the event of de­vel­op­ment with re­plant­ing and sub­ject to a bank guar­an­tee and in­clud­ing main­te­nance that we have pro­vided 6 years ago is nowhere to be found, in the plan­ning re­quire­ments.

Pass­ports & Visas

Var­i­ous warn­ings sub­mit­ted by us 3 years ago have now sur­faced for pos­si­ble fu­ture prob­lems. The E.U. is now not­ing this and we expect a prob­lem over the near fu­ture which will have a se­ri­ous ef­fect on the build­ing in­dus­try and the econ­omy in gen­eral.

Height and den­sity-Tourist Projects

Some progress has been made but many more in­cen­tives are re­quired. The re­cent in­cen­tives have caused the up­grad­ing of ho­tels and have par­tially met the in­creased de­mand. Why was this not in­tro­duced 6 years ago when we re­ported the mat­ter?

A strike force?

The set­ting up of a strike force to rep­re­sent a one-stop shop com­pris­ing of the same civil ser­vants that have caused the prob­lem – So at the end we will end up back to square one.

The moun­tain re­gions

A pro­posal sub­mit­ted 12 years ago re­mains on pa­per and now most of the ho­tels in these re­gions have closed down. Re­cent an­nounce­ments by the Gov­ern­ment for a EUR 800,000 con­tri­bu­tion for im­prove­ment is grossly in­ad­e­quate. It needs a much more imag­i­na­tive scheme and of a wider pa­ram­e­ter in the re­gion of EUR 5,000,000-EUR 10,000,000 for the moun­tain re­gion to have some sort of a sport­ing of chance to suc­ceed (see our 4-year-old de­tailed pro­posal).

These are some of our sug­ges­tions and there are full de­tails on each and ev­ery sug­ges­tion should you care to ex­am­ine them, whereas your Min­istry should wake up ahead of de­vel­op­ments and not af­ter the events – it is time!!

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