A law proposal aimed at preventing government owned property from being impounded to pay off debts resulting from land expropriation will be extended to also cover state deposits.
Speaking to the media after a House Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said state deposits in banks are vital for the smooth functioning of the economy and government and therefore must be protected.
“What we are seeking is a legal adjustment that will prevent actions that put the government and items of great cultural and historical importance at risk.”
The bill which has been tabled before parliament for discussion was submitted in March after court bailiffs impounded Attorney General Costas Klerides’ official limousine to pay debts resulting from the state expropriating private land several years ago for the purpose of building a public school.
The following week bailiffs unsuccessfully attempted to seize several stated owned works of art from ministry buildings.
“Incidents such as these serve no purpose other than to humiliate the state and put our economy at risk. Our intention is to exclude state deposits and certain state properties and belongings from being seized in cases of dept repossession.”
Asked if residents who are owed money by the state can be compensated in another way, Nicolaou assured that the bill does not seek to leave anyone out of pocket.
“It (the proposal) will simply place restriction on government owned moveable properties that can be impounded but will not prevent members of the public from being compensated. We are currently examining other repayment methods which may take place in stages over a predetermined period.”
Pressed to comment on when the bill is likely to passed, the minister said it is expected to go before parliament for vote before the end of the month.
“There are still some legal challenges that must be discussed with the Attorney General but we are confident the bill will be passed very soon.”
Other exemptions from repossession outlined in the bill include properties used by state services in the government, army and police and other items that are considered to provide services to society.