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17 July, 2024
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Cyprus prepares for major local government reform

June 9 elections set the stage for new administrative structure launching on July 2024


The June 9 elections mark the final step before the significant milestone on July 1, 2024, when a new local government structure will be established in Cyprus, Apostolos Tomaras reports. This transition poses major challenges for the executive branch, which designed the new legislative framework, the legislature that passed it, and the local authorities tasked with implementing the most extensive administrative reform since the founding of the Republic.

The financial aspect is a critical issue, with the state allocating substantial annual resources to ensure the survival and autonomy of local authorities. By 2026, municipalities in free areas will receive €328.5 million, municipalities in occupied areas €51.2 million, and occupied municipalities €14.1 million. These funds aim to support local authorities in managing their finances effectively, ensuring administrative and financial autonomy, and providing high-quality services at minimal cost.

State intervention will be limited to approving annual budgets submitted by municipalities. However, concerns remain about the adequacy of the payroll budget, which legislation caps at 40% of municipal budgets. Increased costs due to inflation and other factors have already strained these budgets, according to Andreas Vyras, president of the Union of Municipalities.

Salaries of local leaders are also a significant financial consideration. Official figures indicate the total cost for 20 mayors, 93 deputy mayors, and 349 municipal councillors amounts to nearly €6 million annually. Mayors' salaries range based on their municipality's classification, with some receiving parliamentary allowances.

The new local government structure will include five Provincial Self-Government Organisations, consolidating services and creating 20 municipalities from the merger of existing ones. These changes aim to enhance service delivery and sustainability, supported by European funds through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The role of deputy mayors, totaling 93, has been debated, but no changes are planned for the next five years. European funds are seen as crucial for sustaining high service levels and supporting local government reform.

[This is a translation and summary of Apostolos Tomaras' article in Kathimerini]

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