Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos in Thursday acknowledged the serious financial problems faced by municipalities but made it clear the state grant awarded to them would not be increased.
In an official statement after a meeting with the Union of Cyprus Municipalities, Hasikos said local authorities “must focus their efforts on how to clean their house.”
He said while the government could assist in matters concerning the municipalities’ obligations to the state, “there is no way the state subsidy will be increases in spite of their problems.”
Hasikos also said the joint Interior Ministry-Union of Municipalities committee, was now ready to discuss two overseas experts’ reports on reforming local authorities in Cyprus.
The committee, which also includes the participation of political parties was created to help reform and modernise the local authorities and has, amongst other tasks, been charged with discussing separate reports by British, Italian and Greek experts.
The proposals are expected to lead to the formation of a Reform of Local Authorities Law to be voted in by the House before the end of the year.
The studies are understood to recommend the merging of municipalities and sharing of duties and services.
Union of Cyprus Municipalities Chairman, Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos, said the union remained in ongoing dialogue with the state over the modernisation and the timetable set for this reform to take place.
“There is the study by the British experts and the one by the Italians which, in our opinion, is supplementary to the one by the British. Together, the make a very useful tool,” he said.
Galanos also noted that reform would have to ensure the quality of services provided by the municipalities was not compromised by a potential fall in their numbers: “What is important is how effective and productive the municipalities and the services they provide are. It is not just an issue of quantity but also one of quality,” he said.