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In the land state of the Church…

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In the land state of the Church…

After almost half a century, the state owned about 15,000 acres of agricultural land that was the property of the Holy Archdiocese.

By decision of the Council of Ministers at its last meeting, approved the transfer of ecclesiastical land, which is included in the well-known agreement of 1971, and authorized the Department of Land Registry in cooperation with the General Accounting Office of the Republic and the Church of Cyprus to proceed in all the necessary actions for the implementation of the decision.

As it is known by its decision, the Council of Ministers, on February 11, 1971 (during the presidency of Archbishop Makarios) agreed to the transfer of 15 thousand acres of church land and at the same time undertook the subsidy of the salaries of the priests who work in rural temples.

However, most (about 73%) of this real estate is located in the occupied territories and therefore only 27% located in the free zones will have real value for the state for the time being. As mentioned in the relevant proposal of the Minister of Finance, dated 27 December 2018, “according to an estimate of the Department of Land Registry, the value of ecclesiastical land granted to the government and located in the free areas, at 2010 prices amounts to 81,268,000 million euros, while the corresponding value of the land located in the occupied territories, at 2009 prices – on the basis of the market value for the purposes of the Equal Weight Loss Agency – was estimated at 125 million euros.

It is also noted in the proposal that the Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Republic consulted with the Archbishop of Cyprus, who agreed with the specific proposal.

However, since 1983, after the General Accounting Office kept records, until the end of 2016, 123.7 million euros were paid as a result of the 1971 agreement, with the clergy being paid by the state (including about 25 from other religious groups) . The subsidy to date is granted to each priest separately, but uncontrollably, since the beneficiaries are determined by the Church and it is not checked whether they are employed in the “countryside”, for the amount of 674.82 euros per month (corresponding to half the earnings of the initial salary scale A5, with the Church completing based on its own criteria). The separate payment entails additional administrative costs for the General Accounting Office, since it is obliged to “run” a separate payroll for the clergy.

A relevant bill is ignored in Parliament

It is noteworthy, however, that the fate of the bill related to the above, which was prepared and submitted to Parliament in early 2016, is still being ignored. and the Church.

Indicatively, it is mentioned that in this year's state budget, an amount of 6.8 million euros was included (in 2018 it was 6.75 million euros) to cover the expenses for the state aid of the rural priests (and the clergy of the religious groups) in the base of the state-church agreement of 1971. According to the budget of 2019, this item records a steady increase of 200 thousand euros in the coming years. In 2020 it will rise to 7 million and in 2021 to 7.2 million euros.

At the same time, the bill that would update the infamous 1971 agreement between the state and the Church, which Archbishop Makarios had actually consulted with himself, despite being prepared with a thousand and two difficulties in 2015 and despite being considered and led to the plenary vote of the Parliament. in March 2016 and then in April of the same year, has since been ignored! Or rather it remains, according to the website of the Parliament, unclaimed by the parliamentary Committee on Finance.

Source: politis.com.cy

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