NEWS

Discounts on illegal properties bill

A bill allowing owners of illegal homes to purchase a demolition amnesty for their properties remained unfinished on Wednesday, following a second reading in Parliament where Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou proposed a series of changes including lighter penalties for older homes, for storage areas in illegally constructed homes and for owners of illegally constructed homes who are disabled.

According to sources, the main conservative opposition party New Democracy was broadly supportive of the spirit of the legislation, adding just a few technical proposals. Papaconstantinou told Parliament that the government would consider further amendments. ?The ministry remains open to further changes, if necessary,? he said.

The key amendments proposed by Papaconstantinou are smaller fines for properties that were illegally built prior to 1983. Owners of such properties will be eligible for an 80 percent discount on their fines while owners of homes built between 1983 and 2003 will get a 20 percent discount.

Disabled citizens will also be eligible for a heavily discounted fine on illegally built homes.

Properties that were built illegally prior to 1955 will be exempt from any fines.

As for the proceeds to be gathered from the penalties, Papaconstantinou did not determine what they would be used for.

But he said a section of the funds gathered might go toward boosting the debt-ridden Social Security Foundation (IKA). ?We are in talks with the Labor and Social Insurance Ministry regarding the possible allocation of a portion of the total sum of the penalties to social insurance organizations with a particular emphasis on IKA,? Papaconstantinou said.

The aim of the bill is to allow owners of properties that have either not been built within the legal requirements or which have been constructed without a permit to pay a fine to protect their homes from demolition for 40 years.

The size of the fine will depend on the size of the property, real estate values set by the tax offices and the type of offense.