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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-28

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

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


May 28 , 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Fruit packer ravaged by fire
  • [02] Rocky road ahead for reform plan in north
  • [03] Cars gutted in Paphos blaze
  • [04] Akel keeps the pressure on over ‘paramilitary’ group
  • [05] Man held in ‘drugs by post’ case

  • [01] Fruit packer ravaged by fire

    A FIRE raged at the Sovereign Bases on Friday night for four hours before joint British and Republic of Cyprus firefighters quenched the flames.The blaze broke out in the Amagio Packing House, along the Kolossi-Akrotiri road about 300 metres north of the Asomatos junction, sometime after 8pm.

    The fire was reported to the Defence Fire Services at 8.45pm. Four bases fire engines and two from the Republic were called to the scene, and the blaze was put out at 12.30am.

    No one was hurt, but the packing house, thought to contain fruit, was extensively damaged.

    The cause of the fire is unknown. A full SBA police investigation is currently under way.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    May 28 , 2000

    [02] Rocky road ahead for reform plan in north

    By Jennie Matthew

    THIS WEEK the regime in the occupied north unveiled a 12-point ‘draft of intent’, aimed at economic and administrative reform, but if and how the plans will actually take shape and be implemented remains unclear.

    The package is the latest in a long line of deals, but the mood this time is one of urgency, given that economic disaster looms ever closer for the region.

    "Of course we have to debate it, but it has to work. We don’t have a choice, " said one prominent Turkish Cypriot businessman and Rotary Club member.

    In a corrupt and inefficient public sector, public revenue is dwindling and tax evasion is rife, while the economy lags way behind that of the Republic of Cyprus. The recent banking crisis in the north, mishandled by ‘prime minister’ Dervis Eroglu, has crippled bank reserves and the Turkish Cypriot balance of trade deficit is massive.

    The bleak prognosis, coupled to EU ambitions, make reform the only constructive step forward, and this time the package presented last Monday conforms to the Copenhagen Criteria necessary for European Union membership.

    The strategy is multi-pronged and intends to pinpoint the disaster areas, boost revenue, buttress social security, raise public sector efficiency and propel the languishing economy of the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ economy into an entrepreneurial marketplace.

    To counteract chronic tax evasion, the draft proposes to lower income tax (intended to encourage enterprise), while upping VAT on consumer goods, alcohol and cigarettes, and reducing rates for education and health.

    Other proposals seek to curb public servants’ privileges. Summer working hours would apply for just three months instead of the current five, and retirement perks will be curtailed.

    To encourage business, VAT charges on raw materials will be reduced, although the cost of electricity has already been hiked and telecommunications charges could go the same way.

    The ‘TRNC Central Bank’ would be given greater autonomy, while a ‘joint monetary programme’ or permanent channel with the Turkish Central Bank would guarantee reserves.

    Indeed acting ‘prime minister’ Mustafa Akinci and ‘finance minister’ Mehmet Bayram spent part of last week in Turkey, discussing the draft.

    But Engin Ari, former president of the north’s Businessmen’s Association, dismisses criticism of undue influence from Ankara.

    "There has been no influence from Turkey in the preparation of this package, but to become a real programme it will need the assistance of the experts in Turkey," he told The Sunday Mail.

    An obstacle-strewn path lies ahead if any aspects of the draft are to be realised, however.

    Firstly tax hikes, even ones disguised in VAT, are bound to be unpopular, however necessary they may be, particularly in an area noted for its fat cat civil servants.

    The time frames allotted for each project, clearly laid out, are ambitious and only achievable if and when a consensus to adopt them has been reached – and many think that could take up to two years.

    The trade union Chag-Sen immediately denounced the plans as Turkish integration which would put a "guillotine at the neck of the people", and other trade unions followed suit later in the week.

    Ari pointed out omissions – such as lack of legal reform, vital to support any reform, and conflicts between the need to raise revenue alongside providing incentives for private enterprise.

    Rauf Denktash, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, has promised to institute a thorough examination of the draft – an assessment fully supported by the anxious business community in the north, who desperately need it to work.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    May 28 , 2000

    [03] Cars gutted in Paphos blaze

    POLICE are investigating a suspected arson attack which gutted two cars in Paphos. The 3.10am blaze destroyed an Alfa Romeo and BMW belonging to Andreas Christodoulou.

    The cars were parked in the garage of Hill Top Gardens apartment block where Christodoulou lives.

    Police suspect arson, but say they do not yet know of any motive.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    May 28 , 2000

    [04] Akel keeps the pressure on over ‘paramilitary’ group

    By George Psyllides

    THE ROW over the existence of a ‘paramilitary’ group keeping files on army officers continued unabated yesterday, with Akel claiming that the case would have been swept under the carpet if the party had not made it public.

    Speaking to reporters yesterday morning, Akel deputy Nikos Katsourides, accompanied by his colleague Costas Papacostas, disputed the claim that Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos had ordered an investigation before the charges were made public.

    On Friday Papacostas charged that a clandestine paramilitary group, headed by two senior retired National Guard officers and keeping tabs on army officers, had been operating since April 17.

    He also accused the governing Disy party of sheltering the group.

    But Disy vehemently denied the allegations, and Hasikos said he had been briefed on the issue on Wednesday by the new chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant-general Evangelos Florakis.

    Hasikos said he had ordered Florakis to investigate and report back to him on June 5.

    Disy deputy and House Defence Committee member Antonis Karas on Friday accused Papacostas of having ulterior motives and claimed the Akel MP made his allegations after the defence minister had already ordered the investigation.

    However, yesterday Papacostas claimed that both the defence minister and National Guard commander knew he had the documents relating to the illicit group.

    Katsourides maintained there was a serious discrepancy between what Disy said and what Karas himself said.

    "Disy's written statement said a defence bureau never operated in the party, while Mr Karas the next minute admitted to the existence of a defence secretariat which he heads," Katsourides said.

    "The minister said the officers named on Friday as being part of this group were Disy members while Mr. Karas today (Saturday) says there are no active National Guard officers who are members of Disy," he added.

    Katsourides went even further yesterday, suggesting that Disy keeps tabs on police officers too.

    Earlier yesterday Karas told reporters that "such a thing (a paramilitary group) never existed and never will, because at Disy we do not need such methods".

    Referring to one of two retired officers who allegedly head the group, Karas said he was a popular general respected by all the governments of the republic.

    Meanwhile former National Guard Commander General Demetrios Demou distanced himself from the fracas yesterday.

    In a written statement, Demou said he knew nothing about any such group and that no one had ever given him any documents concerning its existence, even unofficially.

    The entire issue will be discussed on Monday at an emergency meeting of the House Defence Committee.

    Yesterday Katsourides hinted that Akel might demand a criminal investigation into the case.

    The new Deputy Attorney-general, Petros Clerides, said yesterday that a criminal inquiry could probe deeper into the allegations because of the powers given by law to the Attorney-general.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    May 28 , 2000

    [05] Man held in ‘drugs by post’ case

    A 26-year-old man from Paralimni in the Famagusta district was remanded in custody for four days yesterday, suspected of receiving drugs through the post.

    Demetris Arnaoutis was arrested on Friday after police found an envelope allegedly containing 25 grams of hashish in his wife's car.

    The court heard police intercepted a car driven by Arnaoutis' English Cypriot wife, and after a search found an envelope with his name on it.

    The woman said she did not know anything about its contents and that the envelope belonged to her husband.

    Two hours later police searched the suspect's house and found two pipes and traces of hashish.

    Police said Arnaoutis admitted the pipes were his and were brought from Thailand.

    But he said he knew nothing about the contents of the envelope.

    He subsequently told police that last year he had smoked hashish with British tourists who suggested sending him some by post but he had refused their offer.

    Police say Interpol is now helping to trace the sender of the stash.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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