TROODOS - The government has decided to bring the private sector in to support major development projects.
The Cabinet yesterday approved a bill that will see schemes such as the Conference Centre and Philoxenia Hotel being leased to long-term investors.
Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides made the announcement after the Cabinet met at the presidential holiday home in Troodos.
“The bill, drafted by the Communications and Works Ministry, encourages the best use of the wider area of the Conference Centre, the Philoxenia Hotel, the Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus as well as the opening of a competition for the use of the old terminals of the two airports at Larnaca and Paphos for a period up to 99 years,” he added.
“The investor develops the area based on the indicated design but always with respect for the town planning terms provided in local legislation,” he said.
Specific terms and rules would be set out in every competition that will be called.
Asked whether this was a form of privatisation, he said “it’s a decision that comes under the logical cooperation between the public and private sector with development being the main goal”.
“And the government has always made clear that its political position and philosophy is to push ahead the concept of cooperation between the public and private sectors. It is a concept that has been proven in European countries that helps greatly towards the development of a country,” he added.
A competition will also be opened for the prime real estate opposite the Hilton in Nicosia which was to be developed by oil-rich Qatar. But the joint high-profile joint venture with Cyprus failed to materialize, leaving the former government red-faced.
On the thorny issue of the value of the specific property, he said evaluations had been carried out in the past but they were updated because facts do change.
“An interest has been expressed and we will look into it,” he said but refused to elaborate on whether it comes from foreigners or local investors.