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THE INTERIOR Ministry’s plan to increase the number of stories allowed in buildings will happen either with added taxes or by allowing the sale of building coefficients to developers.

According to Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis, who yesterday presented the House Finance Committee with his ministry’s 2009 budget, said the exact number of storeys and the areas these buildings will be built in were currently under evaluation.

He explained that the necessary infrastructure needed to be examined, such as parking areas and water supply, adding that the measure would have a direct impact on easing the island’s main towns’ congestion problems.

The minister also announced that a bill was currently being prepared for Town Planning amnesty, which means finding ways to issue title deeds for houses and constructions mainly for people whose ownership papers have become trapped in the hands of developers.

Sylikiotis pointed out that there would be a 25 per cent increase in developmental expenses, involving support measures for local authorities, refugees, the computerization of public services and the simplification of procedures to avoid crippling bureaucracy.

Committee Chairman Antigoni Papadopoulou of DIKO applauded the government’s reinforcement of housing programs, which she claimed was a direct result of the strong economy handed over by the previous government.

DISY’s Christos Stylianides pointed out that Cyprus was the last country in the EU when it came to the ‘e-government’ sector. The promotion of measures in the sector, he added, would save time and money.

During the Committee meeting, Sylikiotis said the government and his ministry would pay special emphasis to absorbing funds from the four Treasuries, implemented in the European Union’s programme for Solidarity and Management of Migratory Flows.

Cyprus’ aim, he explained, is to fully absorb the €8.5 million yearly funds, in order to better manage migratory flows.

According to the minister, the ministry’s regular expenses for 2009 will reach €470 million, compared to last year’s €387 million – a 22 per cent increase – while €270 million will go to developmental causes – a 32 per cent increase from last year.

By Jacqueline Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail, October 29, 2008|||Higher buildings and e-governance in Interior Ministrys 2009 budget
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