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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-25

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, May 25, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Banks coining money in cash transfers
  • [02] MP urges Euro parliament to intervene over Akamas development
  • [03] Promising prospects for pizza
  • [04] CSE: last-minute selling skims early gains
  • [05] War scenes to be shot on Sunday
  • [06] Pedestrian killed while walking in Strovolos
  • [07] Tourists sent for trial on Ecstasy charges
  • [08] Fruit-pickers’ strike begins third week
  • [09] Naafi workers in dispute over staffing
  • [10] Teachers threaten strike action
  • [11] Hilton for sale and fuel prices put on hold
  • [12] CyBC airing bicommunal discussion on Cyprus problem
  • [13] Helping parents to cope with child heart disease

  • [01] Banks coining money in cash transfers

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CHARGES for transferring money from Cyprus to a foreign bank account can cost double in one bank versus another, depending on the bank used and the amount moved, the Cyprus Mail has learned.

    With the Cyprus pound shackled to the devaluing euro, transfer fees come as an extra burden to parents who need to deposit money into their children's bank accounts while they are studying abroad.

    So for those still sending their children to foreign universities, it is worth shopping around for the best deal, given the variation between overseas transfer rates charged by the top four banks on the island.

    We carried out our check following a consumers’ survey commissioned by the European Commission, which revealed that banks are charging excessive – and often illegal – fees for moving money between EU member states.

    In a spot-check in Cyprus, yesterday we asked Alpha Bank, the Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank and Popular Bank how much in Cyprus pounds they would charge to send £100, £1,000 and £10,000 in Cyprus pounds to a UK bank account.

    Their replies were as follows:

    £100

    £1,000

    £10,000

    Alpha

    £7

    £9.67

    £51.70

    Bank of Cyprus

    £9.50

    £17

    £62

    Hellenic

    £6.50

    £12.50

    £57.50

    Popular

    £6

    £14

    £62

    The transfer cost -- not including the exchange rate -- combines the bank's commission (0.5 per cent for all, but with a minimum charge of £2) and the SWIFT charge for same-day service.

    At Hellenic Bank, the SWIFT charge is £4.50; at Popular £4; at the Bank of Cyprus, £7.50; and at Alpha £5.

    The prices above are the same for any cross-currency transfer, regardless of destination. Hellenic however, tacks on an additional £3 charge for transfers into sterling, the US dollar or Swiss franc.

    So, for example, the cost of transferring £100, £1,000 and £10,000 into Drachmae would be £3 cheaper than the prices listed above for the British, US or Swiss currencies.

    For a transfer of CYP£100 to Sterling, Popular said they would charge only £6, whereas the Bank of Cyprus wanted £9.50. Alpha' aid to would charge £9.67 to send £1,000, which was only just less than half the £17 the Bank of Cyprus demanded.

    At the top end of the scale, the cost of sending £10,000 was more uniform. The difference between the highest charge of £62 at both the Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank, and the lowest of £51.70 at Alpha Bank, was barely more than £10.30. Given the considerable size of the transfer, the proportional cost is marginal.

    Overall, Alpha offered the cheapest rates, and the Bank of Cyprus the highest. But it is worth noting that overseas transfers between different branches of the same bank cost less, and in the UK, there are branches of both the Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank.

    Hellenic also operates the Western Union Money Transfer service, which is more expensive but deposits your money instantaneously in the recipient's account.

    The rates for this service were as follows:

    £100

    £1,000

    £10,000

    Hellenic

    £11

    £55

    £424

    But an Alpha representative said most people opt for the SWIFT service over Western Union. "With SWIFT, the receiver gets the money the same day. It’s very quick – most do not want to pay extra for the Western Union," she said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [02] MP urges Euro parliament to intervene over Akamas development

    By Jennie Matthew

    EURO MP Monica Frossoni yesterday urged the European Parliament to intervene in the Cabinet's decision to allow "mild and controlled" development in the environmentally fragile Akamas peninsula.

    According to a Green Party statement, Frossoni asked the EU Parliament to have all Akamas development plans suspended until they have been reviewed within the framework of a recent EU environmental report.

    She appealed to Strasbourg to step in, claiming the government's development plans for the island's sole remaining wilderness area run contrary to Cyprus' EU-accession harmonisation efforts.

    Frossoni's support comes as a boost to the flagging Green Party, which -- despite failing to win a seat in the House of Representatives -- has tirelessly campaigned for years to preserve the Akamas area.

    Ironically, residents in the Akamas area have denounced the Cabinet's decision, sanctioning "mild and controlled" development on the peninsula as too restrictive.

    Building is already prohibited on the already protected areas in the state forest and on the green turtle nesting beaches of Lara and Toxeftra.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous visited the Akamas last week in an effort to convince local landowners of the merits of the government's "mild and controlled" concessions.

    But his success was mixed after Peyia Mayor Demetris Kapetzis reportedly asked the Bishop of Paphos to recant his commitment not to build on the Toxeftra land.

    The Church already owns a string of hotels all over Cyprus, as well as a golf course at Tsada, just north of Paphos.

    The most contested aspect of the development work is a proposed road linking the Latchi tourism belt with the Fontana Amorosa area.

    A ministerial committee chaired by Themistocleous has until the first week in June to produce a blueprint to implement the March 1 cabinet decision.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [03] Promising prospects for pizza

    P.H.C. FRANCHISED Restaurants make their debut on the Cyprus bourse next Monday with promising prospects of turning into a blue-chip share with a dominant role in the fast-food and catering sector, company officials said yesterday.

    PHC are franchise holders of the Pizza Hut brand and have 18 outlets on the island. It also owns catering division Catercom which runs Hobo Café in Larnaca, the Espresso Bar company in Nicosia and runs the food and beverage selling points of the Wet'nWild Waterparks in Limassol.

    It projects an operating profit of £1.11 million this year over an operating profit of £766,000 in 1998. Sales were expected to surge in excess of five million pounds from £4.3 million last year.

    With a PE ratio of around 12 based on a 60 cent issue price in its IPO earlier this month, PHC will float 17,333,331 shares with a nominal value of 20 cents each and 3,3333,276 warrants. The IPO was oversubscribed 365 times.

    The PE ratio compares to a ratio of around 77.9 times for companies in the same line of business and listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, and an average of 88.7 for companies on the Cyprus bourse.

    "The PE ratio is extremely competitive," PHC chairman Lyssandros Ioannou told a news conference yesterday. Lyssandrou said the £1.7 million raised during the IPO would be directed primarily towards increasing Pizza Hut outlets and to the Catercom division which was created only six months ago but which is already starting to show encouraging growth prospects.

    "The size of the IPO was determined solely according to the needs of the expansion projects," said

    Lyssandrou, who hinted that other companies in future would also avoid mammoth IPOs and confine themselves only to what was strictly necessary.

    The flagship Pizza Hut division will be boosted with the addition of four more outlets this year at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, Orphanides Supermarket in Limassol, and in Ayia Napa and Protaras, he said. In the six months of its operation Catercom had posted a turnover of £356,000 and a net profit of £121,000. Among priorities of the division in the near future was extending the existingHobo Café in Larnaca and to other towns, and tapping niche markets for fast-foods other than pizza, he said.

    Catering for stadiums, theme parks and airports was also in the pipeline.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [04] CSE: last-minute selling skims early gains

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARE prices ended unchanged on the market yesterday as some last-minute selling skimmed early fractional gains and with traded volumes dropping.

    The CSE all-share index ended with a daily loss of 0.2 per cent, or 0.9 points to 519.36 on a volume of £24 million compared to £29 million registered on Tuesday.

    In the third successive drop this week, the market followed a similar pattern by opening higher at 521 points and holding on to the gains for the first 20 minutes. It slipped thereafter, falling to a low of 518.01 points before heaving itself up a point before the close.

    Sectors showed a mixed pattern of trading. Tourism and commercial stocks posted gains of 1.57 and 0.04 per cent respectively, but that was outweighed by a 0.7 per cent drop in the heavyweight ‘other’ companies sector which absorbedmore than 45 per cent of the day's trading.

    Globalsoft.com, which shook the market on Tuesday with a surprise £16.5 million takeover of Cycom software providers, fell 11 cents to a last trade of £5.89 and on a turnover of 229,475 shares.

    Alithia newspaper, meanwhile, reported yesterday there was the possibility of the merger being referred to the commission for fair competition.

    It quoted Finance Minister Takis Klerides as saying the state had the right to refer mergers to the commission if the companies concerned had a market share in excess of 15 per cent or if their turnover exceeded two million pounds annually.

    In the ‘others’ sector Glory Betting also scored a notable loss of 19 cents to £5.81 while Telia Aqua Marine, which has been rallying since its debut last week, dropped 11 cents to a last trade of £2.19.

    Banking stocks were quiet, absorbing only 14 per cent of the day's turnover and falling 0.16 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus shares were unchanged at £8.40 as investors were unmoved by reports in several media yesterday that the bank had received ‘encouraging’ news from bourse officials in Athens on its plans for a dual listing in Greece. Laiki climbed two cents to a last trade of £12.92 while Hellenic was down three cents to £2.82.

    Laiki Investments, meanwhile, announced yesterday that it has entered agreement to take a 10 per cent stake in CLR Investments, while CLR would take a 10 per cent stake in the Laiki brokerage.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [05] War scenes to be shot on Sunday

    NICOSIA’S Famagusta Gate on Sunday will thunder with Hollywood-style shots and explosives during the filming of a war film. Police said yesterday the war dramatisation will be ‘shot’ from approximately 10am to 7.30pm.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [06] Pedestrian killed while walking in Strovolos

    GEORGE Antoniou, 71, from Moutoullas village, has died after being hit while walking along Tseriou Avenue in Strovolos by a car driven by Andreas Agapiou, 61, of Strovolos, police said.

    The incident occurred took place on Tuesday night.

    Police refused to further comment on the case, as it is still under investigation.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [07] Tourists sent for trial on Ecstasy charges

    By George Psyllides

    THE TRIAL of three British tourists held on suspicion of trafficking in 2, 099 Ecstasy tablets will begin on June 5 in the Assize court.

    At a preliminary hearing yesterday at Famagusta District Court sitting in Larnaca, John Paddington and Kevin O'Brian, both 32, and 28-year-old Graig Dykes, were charged with import and possession of drugs, and possession with intend to traffic in them.

    The three, all from Whitchurch in Shropshire, were arrested in Ayia Napa on May 9 after Famagusta drug squad officers said they noticed the trio "moving suspiciously" in the centre of Ayia Napa.

    When officers moved in, the three made a run for it, police said.

    Police said Paddington jumped down a 12-foot embankment, but dropped a cigarette packet from his pocket, containing 99 ecstasy tablets, in his flight.

    Dykes and O'Brian were eventually pinned down. According to police, O'Brian escaped after punching a policeman, but was apprehended by bystanders.

    Paddington was later arrested on information given to police by the two other suspects, they said.

    A subsequent search at the suspects' flat disclosed an additional 2,000 Ecstasy tablets, police told the court.

    Police said they believe the three Britons were working together to supply drugs in the Ayia Napa area.

    The court ordered the three men to remain in Nicosia Central Prison until their trial begins.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [08] Fruit-pickers’ strike begins third week

    By Athena Karsera

    FRUIT-PICKERS at a Fassouri farm near Limassol are now in their 15th day on strike in protest against alleged attempts to replace them with foreigners.

    Peo union general-secretary Pambis Kiritsis, who visited the striking workers yesterday, said they had the support of the union and all Cypriot workers.

    The pickets said their employer had tried to bring in foreign workers shortly after giving notice to 24 Cypriot fruit-pickers.

    "Peo is behind these workers because their fight is one that has to do with all of us," Kiritsis said.

    He noted that if the Limassol District farm were allowed to replace Cypriot workers with foreign workers, other companies would be encouraged to do the same.

    Besides, he added, "everybody knows that foreign workers are exploited. They are paid very little and have no collective contracts, rights or obligations".

    Peo donated £500 to the pickets' strike fund, and said this would be followed by further contributions.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [09] Naafi workers in dispute over staffing

    TRADE UNIONS representing Turkish and Greek Cypriot Naafi workers on the British Bases may go on strike next week over a delay in the implementation of a deal to increase their workforce.

    The accord was made with the Labour Ministry, and would expand the current workforce from 21 to 30. But it has not been put into effect, and the unions Sek, Poas and Turksen say they may now take action.

    "Our demand is for the Naafi to employ more people in the stores -- 21 employees is not enough when working shifts. The problem intensifies when workers take leave," said one union official.

    A spokesman for Sek, Christos Tziatoutpouras, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: "On Tuesday I visited Naafi stores in the Akrotiri area, and workers were ready to strike there and then."

    He said he convinced them to "wait until Friday, and hopefully we will be able to set a date to discuss the situation with the Labour Ministry".

    But there is no firm date yet for a meeting, and Tziatoutpouras said if the problem is not solved strikes will begin from Monday.

    [10] Teachers threaten strike action

    THE teachers union Oelmek will vote today on whether to carry out its threat to strike unless the Ministry of Education acts act soon on agreements it made with them on school staffing, its chairman Andreas Spyrou said yesterday.

    He said his union of secondary and high-school teachers had made a deal with the Ministry about deadlines concerning teacher transfers, promotions, employment and other issues aimed at improving school standards and teaching quality.

    "In March, we realised the ministry is not meeting the deadlines for implementing what it had agreed, and so we lost faith in it," he said.

    He cited "permanent appointments (which) should have taken place by April 21, but it seems they are being dragged out until August". Such delays "will cause chaos in schools," Spyrou added.

    "On March 23, some senior positions were announced and it took the ministry two months to fill them. In mid-May there was supposed to be a second phase of transfers and the ministry first said this would happen in June and then it said it would happen in July," said Spyrou.

    The teachers are also complaining about ministry delays in keeping promises to build more schools and update textbooks.

    "There is a budget for the building of at least six schools, and the ministry is committed to building 10 schools per decade," he said.

    At present, he said there are too many pupils in each class to permit proper education, adding that at the current rate, "in the new year, there will be no new schools as planned".

    The union will vote today on the strike action at a meeting of its administrative council.

    Spyrou said, however, that the union's threatened strike is not intended to interfere with student exams, set to start in a couple of weeks.

    "All we ask is for the ministry to put the agreed measures into effect by June 26," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [11] Hilton for sale and fuel prices put on hold

    By Athena Karsera

    THE CABINET yesterday decided to fulfil Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis' wish to get the state out of the hotel business, and voted to sell all its shares in Nicosia's luxury Hilton Hotel.

    But the Council of Ministers postponed for a week any decision on whether to raise fuel prices, and put off for 15 days coming to grips with the future of Larnaca's petroleum refinery.

    Rolandis said that at yesterday's meeting he presented his fellow ministers with his recommendation on the question of fuel price increases. He declined to reveal what this was.

    The Cabinet has already agreed that its options regarding the Larnaca oil refinery are either to upgrade it or close it down. Rolandis said the final decision will be taken in two weeks time.

    "On the government's shares in the Hilton Hotel, it was decided that closed tenders would be requested... so that the government could sell all its shares in the company," he said.

    Rolandis added that his ministry and the Finance Ministry would begin working to get the state out of the hotel business, but assured Hilton employees their jobs were not in any danger.

    The proposed tender search would be the second for the government in the past 12 months in trying to unload the 82 per cent of the stock in the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), which owns the Nicosia Hilton. The private sector owns the rest.

    The state failed to meet a September 1, 1999, deadline to cut its CTDC ownership to 70 per cent to meet Cyprus Stock Exchange listing requirements, so was delisted.

    Meanwhile, the Hilton tender search lured a £10-million offer from Cyprus- based Louis Tours, which it later raised to £11.5 million. But the Cabinet rejected this as too far below the £13 million to £15 million it felt its CTDC shares were worth.

    At the time of the Louis tender offer, the Nicosia Hilton still has £14-£15 million in debts stemming from £16 million spent on a controversial renovation and reconstruction programme in 1992.

    A successful sale of the Hilton would realise Rolandis' long-held aspiration to get the government out of the hotel business. The government's other hotel, the shop-worn Philoxenia in Nicosia, has been closed after failing to lure commercial tenders that satisfied the Cabinet as to both use and price.

    Meanwhile, soaring crude oil prices -- from $10 to $30 a barrel last year -- and calls from the island's oil companies prompted the government to try to raise pump fuel prices in February, but parliamentary opposition thwarted this.

    So the state was then forced to look to public coffers in order to make up the difference between pump and crude oil prices.

    Rolandis said that in deciding whether to keep, close or move the Larnaca oil refinery, the main objective was to ensure Cyprus has a constant supply of petroleum products.

    One option is making a $40-million refinery upgrade, bringing its products up to EU standards by 2003, when Cyprus hopes to join the European Union.

    Other options include moving the refinery to another site -- which the government has long promised the Larnaca Municipality -- or closing it all together.

    All options involve spending hundreds of millions of pounds to construct extra crude oil and refined product storage tanks to comply with EU requirements.

    EU rules require Cyprus to triple its 100,0000 ton crude oil storage capacity to about 320,000 tons. This would cost some $300 million. The EU also requires Cyprus to have a storage capacity for a minimum of 90 days of refined petroleum products, adding millions more to the equation.

    Under EU rules, the storage tanks could be located in any other EU member state, including Greece. However, such off-island storage would make Cyprus dependent on the maritime transfer of vital oil products for both commercial and military use.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [12] CyBC airing bicommunal discussion on Cyprus problem

    By Melina Demetriou

    CyBC plans to follow a Turkish national television programme about the Cyprus problem with a bicommunal broadcast of its own next week, involving UN, US, Greek, Turkish and British diplomats and journalists from the Republic and the Turkish-occupied north.

    ‘The Cyprus Problem And Its Perspectives’ will air live on Wednesday, May 31, between 9pm and 11pm from the Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia. CyBC will rebroadcast the recorded programme with Turkish subtitles on Saturday, June 3, at 10.30am.

    The hotel, which is occupied by UN troops at the Nicosia UN Buffer Zone checkpoint, hosted the live Turkish broadcast about the Cyprus problem about two weeks ago.

    The CyBC programme will precede by a month the third round of UN-sponsored Cyprus talks, set for July 5 in Geneva. It will give a forum to the official views of the Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus on the problems dividing the island for the past 25 years.

    Turkey's airing of its programme on Turkish ATV was seen by some as a pre- talks political move by Turkey, since government officials in the higher ranks of Ankara were reported behind it.

    CyBC journalist Costas Yennaris, who will moderate the discussion, is reported to have suggested the CyBC follow-on. Sources said the Cyprus government had nothing to do with proposing the copycat broadcast, adding that it will not be of a rapprochement nature.

    Gustav Feissel, formerly the UN Secretary-general’s Special Representative in Cyprus, will be a guest on the programme. He will also have meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash while he is in Cyprus.

    The broadcast will include specially recorded statements by the foreign ministers of both Greece and Turkey, in addition to recorded remarks by British Envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay and US Special Envoy for Cyprus Alfred Moses.

    Representatives of the UN Security Council and the European Union have been invited to attend the panel discussion, along with residents and members of trade unions and women's and youth groups from both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

    Greek Cypriot journalists Alex Efthyvoulou and Maria Myles will join Turkish Cypriot journalists Shevgul Ulutang and Mete Surmecan on the discussion panel.

    Greece is sending Stelios Kouloglou of NET television and Ino Afendouli of the newspaper Exousia and the Athens News Agency.

    Turkey will be represented on the panel by Rinvad Akar of the newspaper Milliyet and Giavuz Baitar of the private TV channel ATEVE.

    In addition to the Cyprus problem, Cyprus' EU accession process and its future in the Union will be discussed.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, May 25, 2000

    [13] Helping parents to cope with child heart disease

    By Athena Karsera

    GOVERNMENT neglect of children born with heart defects, sometimes fatal, was reversed in 1982 by "more serious thinking" by the then-Health Minister, who arranged for to send them abroad for surgery and treatment, a leading child heart patient organisation said yesterday.

    To mark the 15th anniversary of the Parents and Friends of Child Heart Victims’ Association, its President Savvas Socratous announced a series of fund-raising events aimed at lessening the burden of parents of children born with heart defects.

    "In an attempt to help these families, we set up the Eleousa Foundation in London, which provides on-hand assistance to families travelling to the UK for their child's heart surgery," he said.

    Further help included the Association buying and furnishing an apartment next to Makarios Hospital for the families of child heart patients from outside Nicosia to use.

    But serious problems persist, he said, including a lack of specialised staff.

    Socratous said his recent meeting with Health Minister Frixos Savvides seemed to indicate positive things for the future. "He seemed very moved by our cause," he said.

    Socratous said about 4,000 children suffered heart problems in Cyprus. Of these, about 50 to 60 are sent overseas each year for surgery.

    He said about 100 children with heart defects are born every year, but this could be seen in a positive light, as it means more are surviving.

    Events organised to raise money for the Association this year include a charity run from Limassol through 13 villages to Agros on Saturday.

    There will also be an ‘Open Air Hairdressing Day’ next Thursday, June 1, during which members of the Hairdressers’ Association will serve customers at the Ledra and Onasagorou Street junction near Eleftheria Square in Nicosia from 9.30am to 7pm.

    All proceeds from both events will go to the Parents and Friends of Child Heart Victims Association.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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