Halloumi, Asphaltika and Akamas funds are still outstanding
By Maria Herakleous
The projects and actions included in the 2024 budget for the Ministry of Agriculture do not provide solutions for issues that remain open, and can be characterized as a hot potato in the hands of the current Minister – halloumi, asphalt and Akamas.
Speaking to the Finance Committee of the Parliament on the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, the responsible Minister Petros Xenophontos said that the effort to gather opinions between the parties involved continues. It is recalled that the issue of halloumi was reopened, at least officially, after the decree on the goat's milk quota at 19%. As Mr. Xenophontos mentioned, in the coming days he will see all sides, with the aim of reaching a new agreement. He noted that until January, there are two major milestones in the Halloumi chapter. The 1st is the decision of the European court in the appeal case against the European regulation. The 2nd milestone concerns the European Commission's decision to extend the five-year transition period (from 2024 to 2029). On the subject of halloumi, the Minister received a series of questions from MPs. On the DISY side, Onoufrios Koullas asked what measures are being taken to reach the 51% of goat and sheep milk, while on the AKEL side, Andreas Pasiourtidis underlined that political will is needed for the implementation of the PDO regulation.
The price of asphalt
In relation to the issue of asphalt, the Minister mentioned that in this case too there is a big problem, since no area wants to be adjacent to asphalt factories. “There must be a solution to this problem because we pay very dearly for bituminous concrete, the prices have increased too much, 35-40% more expensive.” It must be solved because we have before us important projects such as the Paphos-Polis Chrysochous road, Evrychou-Palaichori and other road projects, the Minister pointed out, which need asphalt production to proceed. He added that studies have been done concerning the Kalavasos area, and there is a huge reaction from the local communities, while the situation is the same for the choice of Kosi. “We are trying to find a solution but we also need your support” It is not understandable, continued the Minister, that all over the world there are asphalt in the cities and they operate without a problem and in Cyprus the word asphalt is synonymous with disease.
Regarding the Akama area, the Minister admitted that there is a significant obstacle in the implementation of the plan to create 14 nodes within the park, due to the fact that there was only one offer in the first tender, which was more expensive than the estimated value of the project ( estimated value of approximately €6.6 million, and the offer, €8.9 million). The evaluation committee recommended the cancellation of the tender and the tenderer appealed against the decision to cancel the tender, which was rejected by the Tender Review Authority. Within 2024, it is expected that a new tender will be announced again, possibly involving a smaller number of nodes.
Regarding the Akamas local plan and the reactions of the communities, Petros Xenophontos stated that the Cabinet has already approved 10 compensatory measures for the communities of Akamas, of which, among the most important decisions is the hectare subsidy with 60 euros per decari in all areas that are within the local plan. “There are other important projects both in Inia and in the wider area that will be implemented until 2024. There is provision in the 2024 budget of 5.5 million euros from savings to be given to Akamas landowners,” the Minister said.< /p>
In the positive developments concerning the Min. of Agriculture, is the farmer's card, which according to the Minister is progressing and is expected to be announced soon. As he mentioned, the card will be combined with the hectare subsidies. In such a case, the Bank will be able to provide working capital by submitting the approval of the hectare subsidy. “We are trying to find mechanisms to make it easier for young people to get money faster without mortgages and commitments so they can move forward with their investments,” he noted.