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CYPRUS: Big ideas that never get off the ground

19 October, 2019 | Posted By: Antonis Loizou

We cannot stop wondering if, as a country, we have our head placed correctly on our shoulders. Being isolated islanders, with more than our fair share of attention (be it good or bad) and having been spoilt with money, we do not feel that our thinking, as a country, is rational, based on the big opinion that we have of ourselves.


 

Politicians, to please voters are no better and we have all sorts of grandiose schemes proposed which are impossible to achieve.

 

Nicosia’s old football stadium (GSP): We must have spent over €1.5 mln in studies so far.  No one became interested and now a new proposal is offered as an incentive to a would-be investor, to allow a hotel development. 

 

More recently, the decision is to turn it into a park with underground parking.  The cost of the land say €50 mln + construction + heavy annual maintenance and security the project makes no financial sense, whereas adding more and more parking in the centre, it will increase traffic. At this point in time, in our opinion, it will not happen since we are not serious.

 

The Nicosia tram:  Notwithstanding that we subsidize the public bus service by over €20 mln p.a. and notwithstanding that only foreign workers and retirees (free of charge) use the service (otherwise they are empty), we have spent over €200,000 in research to have a Nicosia tram service. But with an investment cost of €216 mln (Government estimates) who has this sort of money to invest in such a financially-losing project?  It will be a B.T.O., project we were told – are we serious?

 

Prime Real Estate:  The prime real estate plots which belong to the Government (locally known as “fillet” of real estate) has been examined by foreign consultants at a cost of over €200,000 to tell us what? That we should build a hotel in Nicosia (see new boutique hotels coming up) to abolish the proposed national Museum site and in its place to build a mall (another one is now under construction) to divide the various beach and other plots of land into building plots (oversupply existing) and that office buildings should be developed in some areas (oversupply) in Nicosia centre.  Are we serious?

 

The Pentacomo fiasco:  What a fiasco dear readers to develop a technological park where international high-tech firms will be queueing up. After Bill Gates got interested and because of the inexcusable delays, he ended up in Malta. 

 

We are just not up to it to fight our red tape, the quality of civil service and our own attitude. We spend several years studying and studying again, and we are now looking at empty land having spent millions on the compulsory acquisition and the construction of some roads.  Now that this will not happen, we will have complications in returning the acquired land to its owners – A mess!!

 

Larnaca Port: After studies to attract the prospective investor for over €0.5 bln., we seem that we are reaching the end (no serious interest with only one possible candidate) but in the meantime over the last 12 years we are quarrelling amongst ourselves how much more we could demand from the possible investor (prime reason of failure are the Larnaca people themselves – they just do not know what they want).  We are not serious.

 

Multi-Million Projects: The disappointment of the various multi-million projects proposed by foreign investors ranging from Yeroskipou to another 3 in Larnaca are all on hold. All waiting for answers from the public service like nothing is urgent.  Now it appears that “something” is moving, but after 7-8 years of waiting, circumstances have changed as well as the investors’ appetite for such investments.

 

Troodos properties: More studies again. Save the Governmental houses at Troodos (in a derelict state), the installation of a cable car, management of the campsites, we think that investors are throwing their money away. 

 

Save the aged houses which have some potential value, the rest is just theory.  We have Mr Papadouris appointed as the man in charge of preparing and executing the Troodos mountain proposed projects. Be it that he has spent €800,000 of his own money, refusing to get paid and he is now accused of having vested interests in the whole project. We are not serious.

 

Akamas Park:  After 30 years and having spent over €5 mln in studies, we are back to square one – i.e. yet another study for a cost of €2 mln restricting the park only to government-owned land (as it was proposed 27 years ago by ourselves).  The reaction of the locals is not the best (see bush fires purposely started) but with limited incentives for the local landowners. It requires a combination of preservation and isolated low-density development, but then each side has extreme positions.  We are not firm in our proposals.

 

Rent or Build – Government offices:  Again, a lot of talk for nothing.  It simply pays to rent Governmental buildings as opposed the Government to build its own.  Simple arithmetic shows that Government buildings should be hired from the private sector and not developed.

 

Others:  The list is endless, and this column does not have enough space.  The examples given prove that our big headedness just cannot comprehend the realities of life to accommodate “imaginative” proposals/projects, self-interests and backhanded deals also.