18 December 2013 18:10

A ministerial committee on Tuesday examined incentives to discourage displaced Greek Cypriot land owners from applying for compensation to the immovable property commission operated by Turkey in the north.
Setting up a special fund or a bank is on the cards, said Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos after a meeting where Finance Minister Haris Georgiades and Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou also took part.
Hasikos said: "No matter which solution qualifies, money is needed but bearing in mind that there is no cash available these days, we will propose something else," he said.
"We believe that money available today for refugee needs - that ¤80 million in the state organisation for relieving the burden of displaced persons, plus the additional ¤65m for refugee housing, etc - could be administered better so that part of this money goes towards this direction."
The Cabinet appointed the ministerial panel to submit proposals to the relevant subcommittee at the National Council.
The purpose is to tackle the ever-increasing applications by Greek Cypriot refugees to the unrecognised commission in occupied Nicosia.
The government is concerned that, particularly due to the current dire financial situation, more and more refugees are willing to relinquish the rights to their properties in the north.  
And in exchange for compensation that often amounts to a fraction of the real value of the property.
Another incentive under consideration is the sale of occupied properties without imposing any taxes, such as capital gains tax or transfer tax, on the buyer or seller.
But the purchase or sale of Greek Cypriot properties in the north should only be between Greek Cypriots.
"The message the government wants to send out is that the needs of refugees are its top priority. After taking into consideration proposals made by political parties… we will try, all together, to find solutions," Hasikos said.
"It may not be a universal solution to the problem but under the prevailing economic conditions we should try to find some funds to give to these people," he added.
Asked whether to discourage the 'sell-off' of occupied Greek Cypriot property the patriotic card should be played, Hasikos said: "I cannot call someone a traitor because he desperately needs money. And the only way to get it is through the sale of whatever property he has."


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