He served for years in the Local Government from the position of secretary of the municipality of the capital and says things by name: Reform is sacrificed on the altar of party expediency. Marinos Mousiouttas had, previously being in DIKO, lifted the weight of the consultations with the Government. He knows from the inside what has happened and what is happening today and he does not hesitate to take a bold stance: Instead of ending up in deregulation, with the changes promoted by the parties, it would be wiser, if some people's priorities now are elections, to continue the debate. after the parliamentary and municipal elections. He expresses the hope then, with a clear mind and away from elections, that the political forces will seriously engage in the technocratic solution of this issue in the interest of the citizens.
-Reform for Local Government is in the air. Will steps be taken forward to serve the citizen or will everything be sacrificed on the altar of expediency?
-The much-publicized reform of the Local Government aims to apply in practice the principle of subsidiarity, ie decisions to be taken as close as possible to the citizen. Decisions concerning his daily life and quality of life. With the reform, citizens hope to enjoy better services at a lower cost. Unfortunately, it seems, after the discussion at the last meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs, that all this is being sacrificed on the altar of party and other expediencies in order to try to consolidate each party, as it thinks, its control in the local communities.
-You have served from a responsible position the Local Government. Do we need reform and what specifically in order to make improvements in the services provided and not just have a competition as to which and how many municipalities will end up in the alpha or beta party?
As I mentioned above, the reform is beyond what is necessary in order to shape local communities based on the modern era of today. The direction we have followed in the discussions so far has been for local communities, economically viable, financially and administratively independent, with decentralization of powers from the central state. By providing better and more economical services to citizens, reducing bureaucracy, transparency, supervision and control of local communities, so that every penny spent meets the needs of citizens without waste, kickbacks and mismanagement. The aim of merging municipalities and communities must be for economic viability and homogeneity. Unfortunately, the debate has been transformed, and I say this with pain of soul, into a rally to increase the number of municipalities with the criterion of whether it will be green, red, yellow, blue … you understand what I mean.
– Millions have been spent on technocrat studies for the changes needed. Since in Parliament everything is shaken in the air and some deputies play it foolishly ignoring the suggestions of the experts, so what are the studies for? Do the wishes of the parties that have turned their attention to the polls determine everything?
– I will agree with the spirit of your question. Unfortunately, this is the bitter truth. Instead of taking the views of the technocrats seriously, a race was launched by the parties to see who would reap the most political benefits from the result of this reform, translating it into chairs of various levels (mayors, mayors, municipal and community councilors). Unfortunately, it was expected and this will be clear if a good scholar looks back at the positions, views, reactions of party formations, a year ago and how some people are positioned today, on the eve of the parliamentary elections.
Let me just mention that with the same minds, if from time to time Kaimakli, Palouriotissa, the Holy Confessors Agios Andreas, Omorfita, Trachonas etc. were not part of the urban district of the Municipality of Nicosia, the capital would still be blocked within the walls and declining. The power in the union then.
-What dangers do you see from the new delay in the reform?
-Reform should not be done for the sake of reform because in the end instead of reform we will talk about deregulation and I will explain. The bills as they are formulated, leaving aside the technocratic proposals and inoculated with colored political proposals, will in the end create a monster which will not only not offer a better quality of life to the citizens but will make their daily life more difficult and will increase their cost of living. Yes, the reform has already been delayed, but I think that instead of reaching the deregulation I mentioned above, it would be wiser, since the priorities of some now are the upcoming elections, to continue the debate after the end of the Parliamentary and Municipal elections. I hope then, with a clear mind and away from elections, that the political forces will seriously consider the technocratic solution of this issue in the interest of the citizens.
-The citizen not only does not see an improvement in the services provided but experiences experience of deterioration, arguing the finances of the municipalities that look like the Danaides pitho.
-But exactly as I mentioned above was the original purpose of the reform. Economically viable municipalities and communities that provide better and cheaper services. Today, municipalities and communities are blowing the whistle due to financial inadequacy, bureaucracy, poor administration and in many cases amateurism.
In your opinion, what are the main problems as they arise from the last meeting of the Committee on Interior:
-The majority view was to hold referendums in December 2023 to enable, as mentioned, local communities to decide on their future. As a Cooperation of Democratic Forces, we consider the holding of referendums a democratic right, inapplicable and dangerous. With the enactment of the legislation in the next one or two months, joint Joint Councils are created – as they are called – which aim to coordinate the efforts of the agreed entities, eg joint accounting, technical services, computerization services, etc., so that everything is ready by May 2024 where elections will be held for the new formations. In December 2023, based on the proposal of the majority, referendums will be held to decide each municipality and each community whether it agrees with its proposed merger with someone else. Imagine the possibility – which is very likely – that some will reject the mergers. This simply means that the whole design is lost. In fact, we will have crippled and abolished the reform, for the preparation of which I will remind you that money and labor-intensive preparations have been spent. We strongly disagree with that.
An issue also arose with the Mergers of Municipalities and Communities. We as a Cooperation of Democratic Forces proposed the creation of 14 municipalities, as was the initial study of the experts. Unfortunately, due to partisan interventions, the submitted bill referred to 17 new municipalities, while the majority of the competent Committee approved the establishment of 20 to 21 new municipalities, primarily “listening” to the reactions of their voters and setting aside any technocratic analyzes. Fortunately, the meeting of the Commission did not continue because with the prevailing bidding rates we would have surpassed the existing 30 municipalities in number.
– Are there options where things have reached?
– There are always solutions. The bills could be withdrawn and resubmitted, which I consider to be the most correct solution. Party formations must return to positions that give priority to technocratic rather than party criteria. The choice of technocrat seats and exhibitions should not be a la carte. However, if referendums are to be held, they must be held before the implementation of any legislative changes. A single referendum must be called immediately to hear the will of the people and in the event of a positive decision – which I believe is the most likely – implementation to proceed. of reform. This consultation has taken several years, we have tired the citizen and the whole process tends to degenerate. Responsibility may not be shared equally but it weighs on all of us.
– As a Cooperation of Democratic Forces, do you see things going well?
-We participated constructively in the technocratic analysis, discussion and elaboration of the bills and with our own interventions in the competent committee we contributed to the improvement of the bills, eg the creation of a unified service for the issuance of urban and building permits. Despite all our efforts, we see that other political forces, prioritizing party benefits from the forthcoming reform, have led the whole effort to a dead end. Any continuation of this effort under these conditions will lead the local government to serious setbacks. We call on all political forces, even in the afterlife, to finally let go of the ego and see the ego so that the coveted reform can proceed smoothly. We do not think as a Cooperation of Democratic Forces that our country will lose 980 million euros in revenues from European sponsorships if, among other things, a proper reform of local self-government does not proceed. As a Cooperation of Democratic Forces, we will do everything in our power to advance the modernization of Local Government and we will stand in the way of any attempt made through partisan expediencies to wreck or alienate this reform.