It would seem that we are alone in the wilderness of a mess that the construction sector and entire Cyprus real estate market finds itself in.
I have been writing for the last 40 years, about what is sometimes wrong in the building industry with the hope that some people (especially politicians) listen. Although I do not necessarily claim the infallibility of the Pope but express my views in the hope of creating some sort of discussion to improve things.
What is most annoying, is that the various associations of professionals, such as the architects, are not bothered, neither the association of developers nor even the so-called advisor to the state on technical matters (the technical chamber ETEK) who all keep silent and surface only if their members’ interests are affected.
I have put forward ideas on “corrective” measures to help the situation, commenting on just about everybody who does not care, including the political parties (the worst) and sent letters directly to the various Ministers in charge.
I give credit to government action and mainly to the two Deputy Ministers, as well as the Minister of Public Works and the Minister of Health, but I criticise all the others, to the extent that some Ministers should be sacked for not being up to the job.
Having in mind only the well-being of the building industry and real estate, I dare to express personal views based on practical knowledge on the subject with 40 years of front line experience on the matter.
I believe that we can offer our experience to the market, but it seems that petty politics and personal interests do not help, which is not always an attraction to those seeking votes.
So, allow me to remind you of the following matters that I have raised recently:
- The “scam” of working from home (and not in practice) and getting paid by the government much to the loss of business and our economy.
- The government decision to guarantee hoteliers for the reservation fees paid (which are in fact loans) is a most dangerous situation open for exploitation.
- The actions of municipalities being involved in all sorts of illegal practices, but yet the government has no “authority” to deal with them (such as the Paralimni Mafia regarding the very recent case of a kiosk which was turned into a grill bar, nobody did nothing about it).
- The reduction of rents which benefits just about everybody, even those who did not suffer a cent from the crisis (such as civil servants, bank employees, etc. and other businesses that are closed in any case during this period).
- The Natura classification which cost nothing to those suggesting it but has inflicted a disaster on property owners affected by the classification. Save some exceptions, this has now become a national sport covering 29% of the land area of free Cyprus.
- The lack of housing for rent and especially to students. My ideas on corrective measures were ignored, including the University of Cyprus that seems to live in its “own world” for their lack of student accommodation.
- The wrong proposal for affordable housing which I referred to a year ago and it failed.
- Various business scams ranging from the sale of bottled water and others, but the one which shocked us most, was the replacement of an electric key with the dealer asking for € 1,000 and we replaced it with €36 from a kiosk!
- The illogical suggestions to the Employers Federation on various matters.
- The help to mountain resorts which is nowhere to be found despite the declarations and the replacement of a local businessman as rural Commissioner with a teacher.
- The inexcusable delays by the Planning Authority which has disappointed foreign investors especially those interested in the mountain resorts.
- The passports issue for which I have suggested penalties of €500,000 per case to crooks (with a furious reaction from some developers, as well as negative comments from some legal firms).
Since our government in recent years has not had the majority in parliament, any Bill that is proposed becomes a compromise with each political party bidding who will be most liked by the voters (forgetting the interests of our country).
For those of us at a “mature” age, you may remember the TV series of Kojak (with Greek actor Telly Savalas), who used the phrase “who loves you baby?”
I would like to borrow his phrase and ask, “who loves Cyprus?”
Surely not the politicians and the numerous commissioners with all their hefty salaries and perks, preferring gifts, and watches from Arab countries.
My favourite slogan is from Winston Churchill who said that “Democracy is not the best system, but it is the best until we find something better”. Presumably, Mr Churchill did not have the Cyprus Republic in mind!