NEWS

Birbili rules out legalization of illegal homes

Environment Minister Tina Birbili on Tuesday clarified that a government scheme to offer owners of illegally built homes the opportunity to protect their properties from demolition by paying a fee does not amount to legalizing the asset.

Birbili’s remarks followed an announcement last week by Giorgos Papaconstantinou, the socialist minister of finance, that the government would examine what legislation is permissible under the Constitution as well as seek approval from the Council of State for any bill in a drive to collect some 1.2 billion euros for the cash-strapped public coffers.

?Any measure that legalizes illegally constructed buildings in this country would run against the Constitution,? Birbili told Vima FM radio station on Tuesday.

The environment minister, who was earlier this year forced to back down over proposed legislation barring construction in Natura areas, told the radio station that urban planning or environmental protection cannot be used as a pretext for passing any legislation designed solely to generate revenue for the state.

A bill whitewashing illegal structures is bound to be met with controversy as it would signify that the state is giving up any hope of knocking down buildings that have been constructed without permission, if their owners are willing to pay a charge.

The socialist administration has in the past received criticism for introducing a similar scheme regarding illegally altered parts of properties, known here as «imiypaithrioi.”

?A law-abiding individual that owns a legal home or property cannot be treated in the same way as an individual who has built a house illegally,? said Birbili.