The Committee had decided to investigate the matter following the suggestion of AKEL and DISY deputies.
According to data submitted by the Land Registry Department, there has been a 40 per cent decrease in property purchases, mainly due to the international financial crisis and its repercussions on Cyprus.
“It is the common conviction of our Committee, but also the Cypriot public, that until today, the state has acted ineffectively when it comes to the increased cost of buying a first home and, more importantly, regarding the many taxes it involves,” Committee Chairman Lefteris Christoforou of DISY said after the meeting.
“We may be the only country where people are being asked to pay [a deposit of] more than 30 per cent of the cost for their first home,” he added. Christoforou called on the state to “show housing and social sensitivity” and scrap the high transfer fees for first time home buyers, so that young couples can have a chance to buy their own homes.
“The fact that obtaining a home is an unattainable dream for young couples is an insult to our country,” he said.
During the meeting, the head of the Town Planning Department, Christodoulos Ktorides, informed deputies on procedures to review the local plans.
Ktorides was of the view that the housing problem could not be resolved – neither could property prices be reduced – solely by increasing building coefficient.
“The prices for buying a home are a result of supply and demand; there are, however, plans and proposals being promoted by the Interior Ministry and government to help Cypriots purchase their first home,” he said.
DIKO deputy Nicolas Papadopoulos underlined a number of shortcomings in the implementation of the state’s town planning policy, especially regarding building coefficients.
He explained that by handling the building coefficients more effectively, the state could improve the economy, as well as help the expansion of a social state, ease congestion and reinforce the public transport system; “and, of course, restrain property prices”.
Papadopoulos suggested, “a radical revision of the number of floors allowed to be built in residential zones”.
By Jacqueline Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail, October 21, 2008