Illegal construction plan unveiled

Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou late on Monday unveiled a long-awaited proposal on the contentious issue of illegal constructions.

The scheme aims to tackle rampant illegal construction across the country, but also to raise revenues by imposing fines on existing illegal structures that will protect them from demolition.

The new plan is a departure from policy introduced by Papaconstantinou?s predecessor Tina Birbili, who wanted all illegal constructions razed.

Under the current scheme, only owners who have failed to take advantage of the proposal will need to worry about their property being demolished.

Papaconstantinou also said that the amount of the exemption fine would be reduced by as much as 60 percent from the amount proposed originally, while his ministry is also exploring the option of offering some form of tax break on exempt illegal properties that are transferred to a different owner.

The ministry?s scheme also foresees a special land tax being levied on owners of illegal property in densely constructed areas.

Meanwhile, the Council of State, the country?s highest administrative court, is reviewing demolition procedures, which currently can take up to 10 years, in an effort to simplify them.

The Environment Ministry?s objective is to be able to raise some much-needed cash from structures that have already been built illegally and to demolish all new illegal constructions.

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