Statement by AKEL MP Aristos Damianou and Chairman of the Parliamentary Internal Affairs Committee after the Committee meeting on today’s debate about the course of implementation of the Local Government Reform
15 September 2022
It is well-known that even in the midst of the debate on the Local Government Reform, both AKEL and other parties in the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs had agreed that after the vote we would set dates to exercise control with regards the course of implementation of this major and important reform.
Today we had the opportunity to be briefed, both by the Minister of the Interior and his staff, as well as by the Union of Municipalities and Union of Local Communities, about the progress of the Reform’s implementation after the approval of the relevant Laws. The general impression is that its implementation has been set in motion and is progressing. There are, of course, pending issues, challenges and objections, because let me remind you that this Reform, as it was finally adopted, did not incorporate all the positions of the political forces and civil society, but rather the lowest common denominator [of positions].
AKEL also had different positions that did not necessarily find their place in the bills that were finally adopted. It is therefore normal and entirely legitimate, in a state based on the rule of law, for there to be objections and even for various Municipalities to assert what they believe in through the courts.
However, I would like to focus primarily on the political part, in order to point out the following: We have been informed by the Minister of Interior that in at least five Municipalities there are, with variations, objections and disagreements on the Reform. The Ministry will have to continue the effort to smooth out the problems and disputes. At the same time as there is a transitional period, we have to speed up the pace at all levels so that as of 01/06/2024, we will be totally ready for the full implementation of this Reform.
As AKEL, we have unanimously expressed our readiness to assist the effort for improvements where the need arises in the three laws of the Local Government Reform that have been approved. The Committee will continue to follow the issue, with the next point of scrutiny being next January, giving the Ministry and other stakeholders another three months or so to see how the whole effort to implement the Reform is progressing.