The Transport Department is getting more negative publicity this week after information about widespread misuse of test drive tags reached lawmakers, with the minister vowing to tackle corruption from one scandal to the next.
Cypriot Transport Minister YIannis Karousos says the old practice of motorists driving vehicles for long periods of time with only a test drive plate is over.
Karousos told state radio on Thursday morning that his office was preparing to tackle the widespread practice of improper registration tags, referring to a scheme where people drive their vehicles without paying road tax.
Local media reported this week that lawmakers have received complaints about a phenomenon in Cyprus where cars with test drive plates are seen on public roads for long periods without road tax and other fees being paid to the state.
Current regulations allow car dealers to provide test drive plates to a specific number of buyers for up to 15 days, a period by which owners are required to register the vehicle with the state.
Information shared with lawmakers suggested in some cases car owners used temporary car tags for five years, resulting to loss of state revenue
But reports said officials recently found out that test drive plates that had been recorded as lost or canceled were in fact in use, while some tags were showing up as being registered to two different car dealerships.
Karousos admitted that improper use of tags has been known on the island, especially involving luxury vehicles.
But according to daily Politis, information shared with lawmakers suggested in some cases car owners used test drive plates for five years, resulting to loss of state revenue.
“As soon as we wrap up the investigation into the imported damaged vehicles, the test drive tags will be next on our list,” Karousos said.
Earlier this year authorities also uncovered alleged irregularities involving imported damaged vehicles, with police focusing on transport department officials while keeping an investigation into arson against the whistleblower on the down low.
In 2020 it emerged that transport ministry officials were getting serious pushback from groups opposing a new guideline that would require car damage history to be disclosed to prospective buyers of used vehicles.
Driver's license examiner test canceled due to breach
But this was not the only scandal Karousos had to address on the radio program on Holy Thursday as the minister was also asked about the cancelation of a recent exam taken by prospective driver's license examiners.
Local media said candidates taking an exam last week were asked to leave the room and the test was postponed, after the proctor suspected suspicious activity and several academic integrity breaches.
Reports said there was commotion in the room and some test takers even had their mobile phones on them, making officials unsure whether some candidates were getting help from other exam takers.
“These are the people who will examine future drivers,” the radio host told the minister.
“At the moment we knew there was an integrity compromise, there was no other choice but to cancel the test,” Karousos replied.