New drive to create land register

After nine years of procrastination and scandals, the project to set up Greece’s first-ever land register is about to be revived, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The program, which will be overseen by the Public Works Ministry, is set to start in June this year with the aim of recording some 5.5 million land titles in 108 municipalities on an electronic database by the end of 2008. However, the project has suffered numerous false starts and been the focus of much scandal since 1997, when then Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis promised that 5 million hectares of land would be on the register by 2000 – a scheme the Socialists referred to as «Greece’s biggest major public works project.» This pledge never materialized. In 2001, the EU began seeking the return of the money it had paid out for the work – some 100 million euros. Since then, several pilot programs have been heralded to kick-start the process but have also failed. According to its agreement with the EU, the previous government was meant to have registered 8,500 square kilometers of land by the end of 2003 but only managed to record 7 percent of that. Greece will return to EU funding for the new project, however, after managing to classify the program as a technological rather than an environmental one, based on the fact that a computer database of all the titles recorded will be created. The EU is set to provide half of the 80 million euros the government predicts the project will cost. The information collected will also be used for a further updating and modernization of geographical data, including the creation of a Global Positioning System (GPS) program for Greece, the aerial photographing of the entire county on a 1 to 5,000 scale and charts on which a precise mapping of the Greek coastline can be based. Preparations are also being made to fast track the registering of land through the courts. Details of what land- and homeowners will have to pay to get their property registered have not been finalized yet, but sources indicate that people owning houses and flats in urban areas will be charged some 30 euros for each listing.

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