Regarding the "Special Report No. DLS/1/2023, Management of Leases of State Land" of the Audit Office of the Republic, dated 11.5.2023, the Ministry of the Interior and the Department of Lands and Surveys (DLS) report the following:
Any disposal of state land is subject to the provisions of Article 54(e) of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. According to the said Article of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers may dispose of, i.e., grant, lease, and exchange or otherwise alienate any property of the Republic or vested in the Republic, to any person entitled thereto as well as to any corporation or local administration authority. The way in which all applications are submitted and examined, the valuation of the property and the whole procedure concerning the disposal of state lands, is expressly provided for in the Immovable Property of the Republic (Disposal) Regulations. Any application for the disposal of state lands is assessed in accordance with the Regulations in force, taking into account the physical and legal characteristics of the property, the State Aid rules for the payment of market rent, as applicable to the intended use of the property, subject to a final approval by the Council of Ministers.
The management of state lands does not fall within the scope of the Regulation of Public Procurement Procedures and Related Matters Law (L.73(I)/2016), nor does it relate to the assignment of public contracts. The Regulations applicable in case of an application regarding the disposal of state lands are restrictive, however the planning for the disposal of state lands for public interest purposes is directly related to the implementation of political decisions of the Government and is not merely the Department’s responsibility.
DLS manages approximately 2,700 leases and permits for the use of state land through a computerized monitoring system, limiting the possibility of any problems, while tenants/licensees are charged an additional fee in case of delay in payment of all rents/user fees.
With a view to simplifying the whole process and reduce the processing time for such applications, the DLS is reviewing its procedures in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior.
In cooperation with the Law Office of the Republic and according to the instructions of the Treasury of the Republic, the DLS is constantly taking legal action for rent arrears, as well as illegal interventions on state lands. Regarding the two cases where a complaint is made to the Independent Authority against Corruption, the Department proceeded according to all appropriate procedures laid down by law.
The DLS, at all times, takes into account the recommendations of the Audit Office of the Republic and takes all steps necessary to comply with these recommendations. Finally, it is mentioned that the Ministry of the Interior and the DLS have already proceeded with a study to revise the existing Regulations, in cooperation with the Law Office of the Republic and other competent Departments and Authorities, in order to clarify any gaps and ambiguities in the current legal framework and adopt new Regulations, taking into account any comments made by the Auditor General.