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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Audit shows “black” transactions behind many years of T/k-Mistakes

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ΔεΙχνει «μαyρεσ » συναλλαγeς η Ελεγκτικor πiσω α&pi Τ/κ-ΑτασθαλΙες πολλoν χρoνων

Weaknesses and deficiencies were identified by the Audit Service in the T/k property concession process, in the context of which the concession of 19 properties located in central areas of the commercial center of Pafos was examined,  following a complaint submitted by letter from a Member of Parliament, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees. 

According to the Audit Service, after recent information from the Senior Director of the Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service, out of the 17 stores that were granted, until November 2022 repairs have started in only five, six were handed over to the Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service, due to the inability to cover the high cost of their repair and for the remaining six a notice will soon be sent to return them, as no action has been taken to repair them to date.

The most important findings that emerged from the audit of the Audit Office were found to be unclear as to the body that has the authority to take a final decision on the granting of Turkish Cypriot real estate. “We recommended that the issue of authority to make a final decision be clarified. This is expected to be regulated in the context of a recent opinion of the Legal Service, secured by the Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service”.

In fact, as noted, “the non-nominal appointment of the representatives of the Local Authorities, as members of the Special Committees, may raise an issue of legitimacy of the formation of the Special Committee. It also creates a weakness in controlling the term of office of their members. We recommended that all members of the Special Committees be appointed by name. In this case, the non-nominal appointment of the representative of the Municipality of Paphos, possibly creates an issue of legality of the formation of the Special Committee”.

Additionally, according to the Auditor General, “even though the properties were offered at a rent lower than the market rent, it was not assessed whether the activities of the applicants are included in the exemptions from the obligation to impose the market rent, as defined in the relevant Circular of the Superintendent of State Aid Control . We recommended that, during the evaluation of the applications, it is examined whether the granting of the property at a price lower than the market rent constitutes illegal state aid”.

The market rent for 14 properties was based on unsubstantiated estimates made during the period 2014 – 2018, while for two properties the method of rent determination was not identified. “We have recommended that the rent is determined on the basis of recent assessments, the assessment procedures of the Department of Lands and Surveys are followed and the supporting documents are entered in the relevant files. The decisions of the Special Committee and the Senior Director of the Turkish Cypriot Assets Management Service were not sufficiently justified”. b>

In addition, there were cases of applicants who were rejected even though, compared to the applicants recommended by the members of the Special Committee, as well as to the applicant selected by the Senior Director, they appear to have had the same family composition and/or more dependents, to they had declared lower incomes and/or owned property in the occupied areas, elements that according to the relevant Regulations measure positively. Due to insufficient documentation of the decision of the Special Committee and the Senior Director, it was not possible to draw conclusions about the reasons for the above choices/decisions.

The Special Committee, in one case, recommended the granting of a Turkish Cypriot real estate to a person who had submitted an application after the deadline. Subsequently, the Acting Director decided to re-publish a call for submissions of interest for the property, thus creating an issue of unequal treatment of the remaining timely applicants. “We recommended that the general principles of administrative law are strictly observed and that the relevant administrative acts during the process of granting land plots are always clear and sufficiently justified”.

Although according to the Regulations, during the evaluation of the applications, the possession of the applicant's property is counted, it was found that reference is also made to the property of the parents of the applicants in the occupied property. “We found a case in which, while the property of the mother of a specific applicant in the occupied rights was not taken into account, in a corresponding application of his brother, the same property was recorded in the examined data, as a result of which there is an issue of unevenness and non-equal evaluation of the applicants ».

A case was also found, in which the members of the Special Committee recommended the granting of real estate to a person who owned a privately owned shop and immovable property worth approximately €1.2 million, even though the Regulations explicitly state that the candidates must not have own business premises, nor significant property. The existing criteria for the allocation of commercial housing are general and non-hierarchical, as a result of which the objectivity of the decisions to grant real estate is raised.

The minutes of the decisions on the concession and the User File of the Turkish Cypriot properties have not been made public, contrary to the provisions of the relevant Decision of the Council of Ministers. “We recommended the implementation of the Decision of the Council of Ministers and/or examination of the modification of the procedures, where deemed appropriate”. of the relevant Decision of the Council of Ministers. These are properties that were in operation and the previous tenants requested the transfer of their use to others. This practice is followed by the Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service, since it is considered that the Decision of the Council of Ministers does not apply in these cases, because the properties are not available. “We recommended the termination of the above practice, since it creates conditions for “black” transactions and is not consistent with either the spirit or the letter of the Decision of the Council of Ministers and the relevant legislation”.

Source: www.reporter.com.cy

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