A parliamentary written question of significant local interest was tabled by Chania MP Antonis Balomenakis, and co-signed by another 47 government MPs, to ask the Employment minister, Ms Achtsioglou, what steps she is taking to improve the capacity of IKA to monitor building works, and early notification of outstanding debts to those responsible in real time.
Many of the residents – both European and Greek citizens – who have their house built in Greece find out that there are outstanding IKA contributions for which they are responsible as owners, nine years years after their home is completed.
The vast majority of these people have already included the IKA payments in the developer’s fee. Dishonest developers sometimes withhold payments to IKA, and by the time the owners discovers that there are outstanding debts the developer may not be in business or may be untraceable. The owner of the property is therefore called to pay again significant amounts of money that were already paid to the developer.
In the question to the minister a change in the calculation of the minimum number of work days is also proposed, to take into account modern construction methods, for which different numbers of labour days are required or cases of prefabricated buildings for which insurance contributions have been paid by the manufacturer.
This is a good start to the contributions reforms that will solve a several – but not all – of the problems that many buyers of holiday and retirement homes encounter and reduce tax and insurance contribution avoidance by developers.
It may also eventually lead to the repeal of the 1951 law that defines the the buyer of a custom built home as the employer, which is central to decoupling the owner from any liabilities of unpaid contributions and possibly planning regulation infringements for which the property owner and not the developer, is currently held liable by the state.
Some meaningful reform in other state agencies and professional services involved in the process of home ownership, to make the process of building or buying a home, more owner friendly – may even encourage greater investment in Greece and could potentially revitalise the flagging building trade.
Antonis Balomenakis can be contacted at email@example.com