Seven actions that will help regenerate Rhodes after the devastating fires last month that burnt 12.5 percent of the island’s forest, were tabled in parliament by Dodecanese MP and former deputy tourism minister Manos Konsolas.
Konsolas submitted his set of proposals to parliament addressed to seven responsible ministries.
The Dodecanese-born lawmaker underlined the importance of moving ahead quickly with a comprehensive reconstruction program to deal with the consequences of the fires, which burned 13,500 hectares of woodland and thousands of crops for over 10 days, led to the evacuation of thousands of tourists taking at the same time a terrible toll on the island’s tourism industry.
Among others, Konsolas suggests the finance ministry move ahead with immediate compensation to those affected by the fires as well as formulating a new debt settlement framework, suspending tax and insurance obligations, exemption from ENFIA tax, releasing rent subsidies, housing assistance and funds for restoration of buildings, homes and businesses for the fire victims as well as suspension of loan obligations towards banks and funds.
Additionally, urgent actions that will restore the island’s image and reputation as a tourist destination through an extensive promotion and marketing campaign by the Tourism Ministry as well as increasing social tourism programs for Rhodes.
Concerning the Environment Ministry, Konsolas proposes the implementation of an integrated and adequately funded local reforestation program through Recovery, Green, and state funds. Konsolas underlines the importance of setting specific timetables, measurable goals and committing that forest areas will become forest areas again with absolutely no change to land use. “Rhodes must turn green again,” he said, adding that in this direction, the National Reforestation Plan should be reviewed and its budget increased.
The Labor Ministry should support employees working at fire-damaged businesses, grant special purpose compensation and five-month unemployment benefits, in addition to allowing businesses the option to suspend employment contracts.
The Infrastructure Ministry must move ahead promptly with anti-flooding works and the interior ministry must allocate funds to Rhodes for repairs to damaged infrastructure.
Lastly, the Hellenic Organization of Agricultural Insurance (ELGA) and the Rural Development Ministry must immediately record and assess damage caused by the fire to agricultural crops in order to proceed with relevant compensation.
Earlier this week, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides announced that Cyprus would be covering the total cost of reforestation of Rhodes during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.