Council of Europe: Government in Cyprus ‘too centralized’

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus remains a “very centralized country” where local authorities are too dependent on state hand-outs and where laws don’t ensure adequate financing to provide municipal services, a new report from Europe’s leading human rights organization said Wednesday.

The Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities said the sphere of local government responsibility on the east Mediterranean island nation “remains limited” relative to European standards.

The report also noted the absence of mechanisms that would allow poorer communities to receive additional resources.

The report’s authors said Cypriot Finance Ministry officials acknowledged that many municipalities lack financial autonomy, cannot meet the needs of the population and face “considerable financial problems.”

The report noted that the Cypriot government has worked out a “comprehensive reform of local government” that are expected to be eventually approved by parliament.

The reforms are intended to boost local self-governance, strengthen finances and merge all existing municipalities to reduce their number roughly by half.

The report also recommended that the principle of local self-governance be enshrined in law, allowing municipalities to receive a larger share of local taxes and eliminating central government administrative controls over local authorities.

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