OPINION

The elusive ‘imiypethrios’

I looked through several dictionaries, but was unable to find a definition for the Greek word «imiypethrios» (half-open to the air – an open space that has been illegally enclosed) which has been costing taxpayers their sleep for some time now. That is not so strange, as each profession tends to produce the jargon it needs faster that the lexicographers can record it. Imiypethrios could be considered the invention of civil engineers, architects and town-planning bureaucrats, a word that provides us with a euphemism for a space that is both covered and uncovered, both enclosed and open, both legal and illegal. That is, you get a permit for some square meters of imiypethrios space and then, out of need or simply because «that’s what everybody else does» you enclose it, effectively adding an extra room to your existing apartment. Considering that every government legalizes illegally built houses (with the aim of collecting money and votes), the legalization of the prohibited imiypethrios space by the conservative administration was to be expected. True to form, the government became mired in yet another communication breakdown. As Deputy Economy Minister Adam Regouzas was calling on the owners of imiypethrios space to list them on their declaration of assets, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and his deputy Stavros Kaloyiannis were saying that wrongdoers would not get away without penalties. The poor coordination among conservative ministers threw taxpayers into confusion and all they could do was scoff at the government’s decision making. Asked by journalists «Which minister should taxpayers believe and what exactly should they do?» the government spokesman failed to clarify the situation. «Let them ask a tax official,» he said, obviously disregarding the apparently insignificant fact that people vote for responsible politicians, not tax officials.