The message that the time has come for the Local Government reform was sent jointly by the President of the Republic, the Minister of Interior and the President of the Union of Municipalities from the podium of the 38th Annual General Assembly of the Union of Municipalities.
In his greeting, President Anastasiadis spoke of a setback in the reform talks, holding the parliamentary parties accountable in the event of a reform of the Local Authorities.
"Lastly, if you will, there is a setback to what was considered progress when the postponement of the electoral processes (in the Local Government) for 2024 was voted. It is inconceivable to insist on numbers that will not actually bring reform but deregulation," he said. .
President Anastasiadis said that the studies demonstrate the need to reduce the number of Municipalities from the current 30, in order to achieve financial and administrative independence and added: "What is important is to reach the levels of local government as they apply in each another advanced European country ".
"So my request to the political forces is to escape from the kingdoms," he said, adding that under the current circumstances and under the current demands of the people, "we can not afford to fight as the alpha party can, and not to." I misunderstand whether he is called DISY, or AKEL, or DIKO or the other parties, the aim is to be how to keep local kingdoms ".
As he said, what is important is to empower the Municipalities when they have administrative and financial independence.
"If we ignore what the citizens want," he continued, "and we try to multiply the Municipalities or to minimize the Municipalities under consolidation by simply keeping some acquis, the only thing we will not achieve is what was the goal from the beginning, the service of the citizens, the demand of citizens to have a better, better quality of life but also to see specific visions of Mayors or municipal councils to be realized ".
He added that the strengthening of the Municipalities is for the benefit of all and the political forces "which in the final analysis will be accountable if we fail the reform of Local Government", noting that the Recovery and Sustainability plan includes the release of € 241 million for the benefit of the Local Communities as long as the reform is done as it has been determined in time.
As he said, "the only message is that the reform of the Local Government is urgent here and now".
Moreover, the President of the Republic said that the government has no "dogmatic position" on the number of Municipalities, recalling that the government had moved from the original number of 14 Municipalities and went to 17, while, as he said, some parties wanted to increase further this number. "Let us stick to what was the central agreement at the beginning of the consultation, the closest possible adoption of the number of Municipalities based on the studies that from time to time the experts", he added.
"Either we trust the experts or we trust our party benefits and party kingdoms, it is something that all political forces must decide to end a backlog that the country needs, I repeat," he concluded.
And the Minister of Interior, Nikos Nouris, stressed that what is required by the reform "is like any new entity that will emerge, to be distinguished by specific characteristics based on scientific criteria."
"It is not possible," he said, "after years of discussions, studies and arguments, to submit proposals for the maintenance of specific entities that are documented not able to maintain their existence with their current operating status."
"It is not possible", he continued, "to submit proposals for selective and unsubstantiated union with Municipalities and Communities that have nothing to offer them, just to gain temporary political or party benefits".
According to Mr. Nouris, the submission of some suggestions by representatives of the parliamentary parties but also the unsubstantiated increase of the number of new entities, from 17 provided in the government bill, to 20 with a possibility of further increase, I consider with certainty that if done will jeopardize the effort we have all made together, jeopardizing the very viability of local government.
"The government, far from behind the scenes and party games, continues to maintain the view that our balanced proposal, as a result of the consultation between us, for the formation of a maximum of 17 new municipalities, is the best under the circumstances, because it provides measurable criteria the viability of the new institution ", he stressed.
For his part, the President of the Union of Municipalities and Mayor of Laraka, Andreas Vyras made it clear that the reform of Local Government is the big bet for the Union of Municipalities, emphasizing that "without the reform we can not have a future as Local Government of Cyprus." .
"It simply came to our notice then. "Local government reform must be implemented, there is no room or time for another postponement or delay," he said, adding that it is inadmissible to postpone the postponement of elections for the sake of an endless debate, "he stressed.
As he said, the need for local authorities, which will be administratively and financially independent, functional and with expanded responsibilities and powers takes precedence over any other outstanding issues or disputes.
Mr. Vyras referred to the other challenge of the Municipalities that concerns the implementation of an integrated digital system for the Municipalities of Cyprus and specifically the Evagoras project. "This is really a grand project that envisages the digitization of all the procedures of the Municipalities as well as the application to the citizens of a wide range of services", he said.
Finally, Andreas Kitromilidis, President of the Union of Communities, said in his greeting that the Communities are ready to strengthen their services in the context of the integration of services, which are the solution to reduce costs and improve the services provided.
He said that the Communities must be kept alive in order to contribute to the place, adding that we support those communities that agree to unite with Municipalities and can do so.
"We want to believe that for the issues that remain open and are discussed in the last sessions of the Internal Affairs Committee of the Parliament but also by the parties themselves, there is the good will of all to find the best possible solutions and convergences so that all together "Let's proceed with the reform of the Local Self-Government, which we all want, but this place really needs it", he concluded.