Government Promises

Don't believe all you read

Don't believe all you read

Cyprus Today reported on Wednesday that TRNC Finance Minister Ersin Tatar had said that the Sun Villa auction, arranged to pay off the landowner’s debts, will now not go ahead and that instead unsold property and land would be auctioned to clear the debt. It seems strange that this solution was not implemented until a government minster intervened. You have to ask why the landowner was being allowed to auction property he had already sold, but had not yet transferred to the buyers, instead of property he could later sell. Obviously this was preferable to the builder as he could make an extra £450,000 out of the deal. The reason he could do this was probably because he had only mortgaged this sold land, an action which is not illegal in north Cyprus. The most interesting fact of all in this report is that somehow a government minister would be able to so quickly set up an auction which would cause the builder to lose £450,000 he was legally entitled to. In similar incidents in the past, long court cases had to be endured at great expense to the purchasers.

However, we have to remind ourselves, the North Cyprus press are famous for reporting things which turned out to be incorrect and so I went back and took a look at old newspaper clippings starting with the Cyprus Times (5/8/2006)  headline ‘AGA Title Deeds on their Way.”  At that time government officials were often reported making positive statements about property problems which eventually turned out to be untrue. For example, Özkan Murat’s statement in Cyprus Today (14/10/2006) that “the law (protecting homebuyers) should be passed by the New Year and (he will) make public a weekly list of permissions (to purchase) approved by the Council of Ministers.”

In Cyprus Today (10/2/2007) Interior Ministry under-secretary, Ali Alnar, was reported as pledging that the backlog of PTPs would be cleared by June 2007. A few weeks later, however, Cyprus Today (24/3/2007) reported that the Interior Minister himself would not confirm this. A week later, in the same newspaper, the Aga Saga (Amaranta) began with the headline, “Impass – Aga plea,” followed a few weeks later with “Amaranta takeover?”

It was around this time that there was a  breakthrough in this lack of serious interest  by the government of the day in solving property problems. The Homebuyers’ Pressure Group (HBPG) threatened to embarrass the government by protesting outside parliament and, in exchange for calling this off, were thrown a crumb of hope for property victims in the form of the now defunct Property Complaints Office. This kept HBPG happy for a long time whilst around them the newspapers were full of stop-go reports concerning the innumerable property problems which were still occurring regularly.

Cyprus Today (7/7/2007) reported that there was a “new Amaranta deal” then the following week “the Amaranta deal hits snag,” then a few weeks later the bombshell, “Aga buyers told: pay more or home won’t be completed.” The HBPG appeared to side with those Aga buyers who were happy for their contracts to be torn up and for more money to be given to people whose track record wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring. They even published on their website a naive statement saying “HBPG does not support the planned protest (by the Aga Buyers Action Group) at the Excel Property Exhibition as such action at the current time would counteract progress that is being achieved in the TRNC.” They seemed to be the only people seeing this mythical progress (apart from the government they were now working alongside) and seemed to be ignoring the fact that their own protest threat had propelled the government into an action they would have otherwise avoided.

HBPG were reported in Cyprus Today (22/9/2007) as stating that, in effect, the formation of the PCO meant the end of pressurising the government in power at the time and instead working with them. Some even suggested removing the word “pressure” from their title and renaming the group the Homebuyers’ Group in a way similar to the later renaming of the Property Complaints Office to Property Information Office to show that they were no longer going to do anything about complaints. The Aga buyers were happy, reported Cyprus Today (20/10/2007), apparently because a large yellow machine had appeared on the Amaranta Village site. “Oh no we’re not!” shouted ABAG in the same edition of the newspaper.

Cyprus Today (22/12/2007) reported that one member of dissenting ABAG, took the Aga construction company to court and won £35,000 plus costs against them. This was hailed as a “landmark victory,” which it was but unfortunately only in showing that you can win a court case in north Cyprus and yet years later still not have the decision enforced. Meanwhile a few weeks later the Amaranta Buyers’ Committee (ABC) simply handed over the money and was reported as signing an agreement allowing the building to restart. It’s chairman is alleged by Cyprus Today (12/1/2008) to have said, “we are well on schedule for Aga construction to complete Amaranta within the 12 month schedule.” After that not much was heard about this promised restart.

Now all this refers to the old government and in no way infers that the newly elected government would repeat the mistakes of the old one. It’s just that reading the article about Sun Villas brought back all these old, and sometimes painful, memories. One of my favourite sayings is, “what you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.” Lets hope the new government follows up its words with actions.

The HBPG does not support the planned protest at the Excel Property Exhibition as such action at the current time would counteract progress that is being achieved in the TRNC.
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