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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

MPs' calls for a comprehensive housing policy

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The 2024 budget of the OCAG, which was approved unanimously, foresees expenses of €28,175,374 and revenues of €21,166,100.

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An appeal for a comprehensive housing policy by the Government was addressed by MPs, during the debate and voting by the Plenary of the Parliament of the budget of the Cyprus Land Development Organization (COAG).

The COAG budget for the year 2024, which was approved unanimously, foresees expenses of €28,175,374 and revenues of €21,166,100.

Koag's revenues are expected to come from proceeds from the sale of houses, apartments and plots of land (€6,961,000), from state sponsorship for the “Renovate – Rent” project (€12,520,500), from interest receivable (€400,600 ), from an additional building fee (€1,000,000) and from other income (€284,000).

A budgeted deficit of €7,009,274 is expected to be covered by the organization's cash surpluses, which on December 31, 2023 were calculated at €16,012,774.

In his statement before the Plenary, AKEL MP Aristos Damianou stated that for many years under DISY governance, the Organization was strangled to the detriment of its mission. He also criticized the delay in the affordable rent plan from 2018 to 2024. He called on the authorities “to stop the announcements on the sidelines and the long-winded statements” and to use the OCAG to develop the plans that young couples so desperately need.< /p>

The MP of DIPA – Cooperation, Alekos Tryfonidis, reiterated his party's position, which was also included in the Government's program, as he said, so that KOAG together with the Housing Financing Organization (OHS) develop into the central body of a substantial housing policy. He welcomed the efforts for affordable rent and the construction of houses by the OCAG but added that these are not enough and said that the relevant Organizations should be strengthened. He also said that the COAG should be active and expand to the mountainous areas and the countryside.

DISY MP Onufrios Koullas said that the housing problem in Cyprus has intensified in recent years, due to the attraction of serious investments from abroad. He added that they should have moved more quickly and there should have been a greater supply of housing. He said that the issue is not solved by the creation of a central body, but incentives are also needed to increase supply. He also said that the current Government went to stop a project of the KOG that was important for the municipality of Limassol and that the strong reaction of the DISY made the Minister of the Interior to bring it back.

The MP of the Environmentalists Movement – Citizens' Cooperation Charalambos Theopeptou said that it is very simple to plan based on the data on the population growth of Cyprus. He also mentioned that there are many good examples abroad for housing supply, such as land use taxation, the utilization of abandoned buildings, agreements with construction companies for low costs, however no one is interested in implementing them in Cyprus.

EDEK MP Ilias Myrianthous pointed out that several citizens who have taken advantage of KOAG plans are stuck with debt problems and the title remains with the Organization, as a result of which they cannot take advantage of the Rent Against Installment Plan. He asked that ways be found for this world to pay off its debts and for social policy to be expanded through the Plan.

The MP of DIKO Zacharias Koulias, said that it is the Government's responsibility to safeguard and strengthen both the OCAG and the OXS in order to relieve the vulnerable families of Cypriots.

The General Secretary of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou said that housing is a good and a right and not a privilege. He added that to ensure this, synergy between the private and public sectors is needed. He also mentioned that in recent years housing has been an elusive dream because there is an absence of a comprehensive state policy that will cover the lower strata of society who cannot acquire housing. He added that AKEL's position is that there needs to be a single state housing organization, which starts with the development of a strategy for the housing policy, coordinates the programs and actions that are running, produces programs and makes investments so that it exists the politics. He added that the shortest path to this is the upgrading of the OCAG and called on the Government to build on the Organization, since as he said on the ground they have not yet seen anything.

DISY MP Kyriakos Hatzigianni asked for an integrated housing policy based on the balance of supply and demand. He noted that at the moment the supply does not meet the excessive demand due to foreign companies, foreign workers in Cyprus, students and asylum seekers. He also noted the problems created by the increase in self-catering accommodation and the tenancy law.

Environmental Movement MP Stavros Papadouris referred to the Ministry of Interior's incentives for affordable housing with the recipient of private sector and expressed the opinion that they will not work since they involve areas in the city center with excessively high prices. He expressed the assessment that there will be no interest from the private sector for this specific measure, unlike what would happen if it concerned areas around a city where costs could be lower due to land costs.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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