Land Registry on the Move?

Athens News

Greece and Albania are the only
two European countries without a
national land registry. The current
effort to compile one started in the
mid-90s but is being plagued by

ENVIRONMENT Minister George Souflias announced on March 13 that a draft law on, one of the most critical projects in Greece's history, the creation of a national land registry, would be submitted to parliament in the coming days. The announcement followed criticism from the state's official advisor on technical matters, the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE). TEE said that Souflias failed to follow through 011 a promise to bring the new law before parliament in October, and now the land registry is in danger. The draft law amends and simplifies how the land registry will be compiled.

TEE's attack is the first high-profile scuffle to break out between the chamber and the minister since ND came to power two years ago. Just days earlier Souflias had taken pride in the progress that has been achieved in the compilation of the land registry during his tenure at the environment, planning and public works ministry.

Lack of a national land registry delays public projects
as practically anyone can lay claim on any plot of land

In its press release TEE had pointed out that the minister had promised to bring the new law before parliament as early as October last year and added that the extensive delays meant there is "a danger of losing significant European funding and of invalidating work that been done for the national land registry".

Past sins

Greece, along with Albania, is the only European country without a land registry. A number of efforts to create one have come to nought in the last 200 years. The latest effort, which was initiated in 1994 during the early years of the last Pasok rule, is expected to cost in excess of 2 billion euros.

As Souflias pointed out in his October land registry speech, "the registering that started in the mid-1990s was supposed to cover 19 million [ownership] rights and had an initial budget of 138 million euros with completion time set for 2000. In the end just 5.8 million sites were registered which were originally budgeted at 93 million euros but it is estimated that their final cost rose to 500 million euros and final completion time was set for 2006."

As a result, the ED imposed a 100 million euro fine on Greece - essentially requesting back all the money it had handed over for the first phase of the project. The case has already been brought before the courts and on March 13 the judicial authorities decided to bring charges of dereliction of duty against the former head of the land registry operation, Nikos Galidakis, and another leading figure, Ioannis Regas. Lack of a clear system of land ownership has already been blamed for depriving the country of hundreds of millions of euros in potential investment, while the OECD has said it constitutes a major failure in the country's tax system.

(Posting date 30 March 2006)

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