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13 July, 2024
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Communities lay foundation for future governance

Cyprus launches campaign to educate citizens on government reform

Pavlos Neophytos

Beyond the spotlight on municipalities due to identified weaknesses in the preparation and implementation stages, a transformative wave is on the horizon for communities set to operate under a new regime starting July 1st. A recent discussion between the Union of Communities and Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou shed light on the progressive steps taken so far, focusing on the clustering of services and the pivotal role of provincial self-government agencies (EDAS) as licensing authorities.

In the meticulous planning, organizational charts have been meticulously crafted for 30 local clusters, comprising 287 communities not encompassed within the 20 municipalities. The linchpin for this preparatory phase lies in the adoption of the Amending Bill by the Parliament's plenary, a move currently undergoing meticulous legal scrutiny. Anticipating approval, the bill empowers communities forming the clusters to establish temporary joint affairs councils, ensuring crucial decisions can be made before the reform's implementation on July 1st.

Acknowledging the transitional phase, both the Union of Communities and the Ministry of Interior concede that residents may not witness an immediate operational metamorphosis. However, the promise lies in the strategic filling of permanent positions with scientific and specialized personnel within the first year of reform. Engineers, accountants, and technicians will fortify existing secretarial staff, marking a significant leap in community capabilities. The recruitment process, funded by the state, is projected to enhance operational efficiency.

A technological frontier unfolds with the implementation of a computerized system, underscored by provisions for transparency and good administration. This heralds a new era in governance, starting with individual clusters before extending to encompass all communities. In parallel, the responsibilities of local complexes, now including managing garbage collection, will usher communities into compliance with the innovative "Pay As You Fly" legislation.

The reform's tendrils also reach provincial self-government organizations (EDAS), entwining their role as licensing authorities for communities. An assertive effort to streamline processes and diminish pending applications is underway. The Ministry of Interior, bolstered by the recent recruitment of temporary staff, is implementing training programs to expedite the transition.

Beyond bureaucratic intricacies, an engaging information campaign is in the making, laser-focused on rural villages. The aim is to demystify the reform's implications for citizens, intertwining it seamlessly with upcoming elections. A fleet of Ministry officials, mobilized through a specially organized bus, will traverse rural landscapes, ensuring every corner is touched by the winds of change.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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