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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-03

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

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


Saturday, June 3, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Plenum votes to make petrol price hike void
  • [02] Laws regulating pleasure boats by next year: Neophytou
  • [03] Search on for missing fisherman
  • [04] Prison governor blames ministries for treatment of psychotic inmates
  • [05] Israelis and Palestinians meet in Cyprus for ‘track two’ talks
  • [06] Hellenic slips despite Greek hi-tech deal
  • [07] Ship safety: we have guidelines but we can’t impose them
  • [08] Please stop smoking at the House
  • [09] We’ll strike to keep our siesta, shopkeepers warn

  • [01] Plenum votes to make petrol price hike void

    By Athena Karsera

    The House Plenum yesterday approved amendments making the Cabinet's Wednesday decision to rise petrol prices void.

    Following the examination of the Cabinet proposal during an emergency Finance Committee session, the majority of the deputies voted in favour of the raised prices being amended to coincide with the original figures, thus eliminating the rise.

    Twenty-four deputies from Akel, Diko and Kisos voted in favour of the amendment and 18 from Disy and the United Democrats against, while Kisos deputies Doros Theodorou and Demetris Eliades abstained from voting.

    The parties against the Cabinet decision said they believed more time could be allowed for international crude prices to come down and suggested that the value of the pound was about to improve.

    They also said the government should have discussed the matter with the political parties prior to the Cabinet decision.

    Parties in favour of the decision said Cyprus had little choice in the matter since the country was not in a position to influence international fuel prices.

    The proposal, which was delivered to the House shortly after the Cabinet session, and which the public understood to have raised prices with immediate effect, was yesterday submitted to the Plenum amid protests that the hike should not have come into effect before.

    Akel and Diko described the way the Cabinet's decision was submitted to the House as "illegal" since the Plenum had not been in session at that time. Attorney-general Alecos Markides has been asked to provide his opinion on the issue.

    House Finance Committee president and Diko deputy Marcos Kyprianou contacted Markides during the emergency Committee meeting to discuss the proposal.

    After speaking to Markides over the telephone, Kyprianou said, "He will be giving his opinion as soon as possible but does not want to be hasty."

    Finace Minister Takis Klerides, who was present during the Committee meeting, was unable to say who gave the order for the petrol stations to begin selling at the higher prices.

    Klerides, who was standing in for Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis who is overseas on official business, said he would have to speak to Rolandis before answering.

    The Cabinet decision had raised Super from 40 to 44 cents a litre, unleaded from 37.8 to 41.8 cents a litre and diesel and kerosene from 14.6 to 16.6 cents per litre.

    The move was prompted by sky high international fuel prices over the last few months that forced the government to dig deeper into already depleted state coffers to subsidise oil imports. This subsidy works out to approximately £5 million per month, Klerides said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [02] Laws regulating pleasure boats by next year: Neophytou

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averof Neophytou yesterday apologised for the lack of laws regulating pleasure boats and pledged that a set would be ready by early next year.

    Speaking after a meeting with shipping officials following a Tuesday boat fire which endangered the lives of 41 tourists, he said, "I apologise. All this should have been taken care of before."

    Neophytou said the approximately 80 pleasure crafts currently in operation had never been inspected for the materials they used or the state of their engines.

    The minister also said many of the boats were modified fishing crafts and said he had heard of at least one put together by an amateur ship builder.

    He added that Communications Ministry officials had already started putting together a set of law proposals regulating the boats. Neophytou said he expected the laws to come into effect by March 1 2001.

    The Lady Diana was completely destroyed when a fire broke out from its engine room.

    The boat's captain Antonkais Gregoriou, 52, suffered second degree burns to his face and arms. He will be released from hospital some time next week.

    Several of the tourists were treated for slight injuries and shock but have all been released from hospital.

    The £250,000 boat operated daily out of Ayia Napa and was licensed to hold 170 passengers.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [03] Search on for missing fisherman

    HARBOUR police and dozens of residents of Pyrgo Tyllirias in Paphos were late last night searching for an elderly fisherman whose boat capsized in mysterious circumstances at about 7pm.

    The UN was also asked to join the search since the area is near Turkish- occupied Kokkina. Greek Cypriot soldiers meanwhile were searching the sea- shore in the free areas.

    George Odysseus, 65, and 62-year-old Andreas Mouhtouroudis were fishing near their village when their boat capsized, it is learnt.

    Mouhtouroudis was found shortly after. He is being treated at the Pyrgo Tyllirias medical centre.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [04] Prison governor blames ministries for treatment of psychotic inmates

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CENTRAL prison governor yesterday admitted prisoners with psychiatric problems were routinely drugged rather than being given proper care, but complained he was powerless to change things.

    Charis Themistocleous was commenting on a damning report by Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou, which found that incarcerated psychiatric patients were not given the care required by law.

    "What can I say?" Themistocleous protested when contacted by the Cyprus Mail for comment yesterday. "The report's findings are the same things we have been saying for a long time."

    He said it was up to the Health and Justice Ministries to change the way prisoners facing psychiatric problems were treated. "This is a problem created by others, it is not due to bad handling or management (at the prison)," Themistocleous protested.

    A 1997 law gives courts the right to incarcerate persons with psychiatric problems in facilities equipped and staffed to treat their condition. In a report released on Thursday, Nicolaou said such facilities had never been created, partly because the Health and Justice Ministries could not agree whose responsibility this was. But persons with psychiatric problems are nonetheless being put behind bars.

    "In reality, people with psychiatric problems simply stay in the central prisons with no special help," Nicolaou stated.

    "Prisoners are given drugs to control their behaviour, they are not helped to develop their abilities or given modern care," Nicolaou added.

    Themistocleous confessed that the current situation at the Nicosia prisons was bad.

    "It is a very serious problem when we have people who have psychological problems and should be having treatment and they are instead being ‘punished’ by being incarcerated. This is both wrong and inhumane," the prison chief said.

    He confirmed that "problematic" inmates were controlled using medication. "Once a week, the psychiatrist visits and prescribes drugs for a large number of inmates -- I do not know what these drugs are," Themistocleous said.

    Nicolaou said 20 prisoners were being drugged in this way. Themistocleous did not want to say how many inmates were being drugged, citing "security" reasons.

    The Ombudswoman has called for urgent government action to right the situation in the central prisons.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [05] Israelis and Palestinians meet in Cyprus for ‘track two’ talks

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday told Israeli and Palestinian delegates meeting in Nicosia that diplomacy was the only way forward in the Middle East peace process.

    Diplomacy remains the sole tool for sorting out differences," Cassoulides said.

    The three-day meeting organised by the Israel-Palestine centre for Research and Information, is being attended by officials from both sides, but in an unofficial capacity, the Foreign Ministry said.

    One of the dozen or so officials taking part in the talks, the Cyprus Mail has learned, is Knesset member Yossi Katz, the Israeli Labour party's special co-ordinator for Palestinian affairs.

    Both the Israeli embassy and the Palestinian administration say they have no involvement in the meeting. According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), diplomats said the meeting was not official, but did concede such gatherings helped to create a better understanding and a better atmosphere between Palestinians and Israelis.

    An Israeli embassy spokesman praised Cyprus for hosting the talks. "It really shows the Cyprus' willingness to see peace in the region," he said.

    "The meeting is part of the track two negotiations between the two sides," a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Cyprus Mail. "They are finding ways to facilitate the peace process."

    He added that the outcome of the meeting, which is discussing the thorny issue of the future of Jerusalem, would help the real negotiators with their task.

    "It is true that the Middle East peace process has gone and will go through a myriad of obstacles and difficulties," Cassoulides said. However daunting these may be, so is the determination of all the participants to succeed."

    The meeting at the International Conference Centre will end on Sunday when a final statement will be issued, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    Cassoulides said the meeting was an inspiration for Cyprus to continue its efforts to achieve the reunification of the island.

    "We take comfort in the fact that your peace efforts have come a long way and should therefore be ultimately crowned with the success they fully deserve," he said.

    He also expressed the island's willingness and readiness to aid the peace process in any way possible.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [06] Hellenic slips despite Greek hi-tech deal

    By Jean Christou

    THE ALL-share index dipped slightly yesterday after a session of ups and downs, eventually closing 0.46 per cent lower at 531.87 points, with banks and trading companies bearing the brunt.

    Total volume remained high at £46.37 million.

    In what traders described as a rather volatile session, the index opened lower but rallied during the early minutes before declining and taking blue chip stocks down with it.

    "There were quite a few ups and downs but no particular reason," said one broker. "It was just a question of supply and demand."

    The best performing sector yesterday was insurance, up by 1.79 per cent with Minerva, whose share was one of the most actively traded yesterday, clocking up 1.7 million transactions.

    The trading sector was hardest hit, losing 0.98 per cent, despite Ceilfloor jumping 26.5 cents to close at £4.02, up seven per cent.

    Although banks were the second biggest sliders yesterday, it was Hellenic that dragged the sector down.

    "A lot of people were cashing in on today's prices," the broker said.

    Bank of Cyprus lost five cents or 0.6 per cent to close at £8.65 while Laiki Bank ended the day at £13.03, down three cents.

    But Hellenic's share slid more than 15 cents, making it one of the day's biggest losers. The share closed at £3.01, 4.9 per cent down, after hitting an intraday high of £3.14.

    Hellenic announced yesterday that the bank had reached an agreement with Greece's Panafon and the Lanitis Group for the establishment of a new company that will specialise in hi-tech and Internet services. Panafon is a member of the multinational corporation Vodafone Air Touch. Hellenic Bank Investments Ltd will take a ten per cent stake in the new company, as will Lanitis. Panafon will hold 55 per cent, while Ideal Group, a member of the Leventis group of companies, will hold 25 per cent.

    Elsewhere on the market, ShareLink Financial Services came close to £30 setting a new record high of £29.50 before closing at £29.47, while Severis and Athienitis added 3.5 cents to close at £4.59 in heavy trading.

    Europrofit was also among the day's biggest gainers amid speculation after CLR bought a large block of warrants.

    The share, which debuted on Wednesday closing at £2.68 on its first day's trading, yesterday reached an intraday high of £3.95 before ending at £3.90. CLR is offering Europrofit Capital investors shareholders £1.41 for each of their shares, nominally valued at 50 cents.

    Another surprise gainer yesterday was Lemeco, which neared limit-up on speculation for takeover, to end at £3.50, up 57 cents, or 20 per cent.

    "Investors appear to be interested in moving into smaller companies because there are so many firms waiting to be listed, this helps them to gain access to the market sooner than anticipated," another broker told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [07] Ship safety: we have guidelines but we can’t impose them

    Staff reporter

    NEW boating safety laws will force pleasure craft carrying paying passengers to pass two levels of safety inspection before getting a license to operate, a top maritime official said yesterday in the wake of a fire this week aboard a tourist boat.

    The fire broke out on Tuesday while 41 tourists were aboard the Lady Diana. Several passengers were injured, some requiring hospitalisation, as did the craft's captain, Antonakis Gregoriou.

    The boat burned to the waterline and later capsized outside Paralimni's fishing boat sanctuary while being towed to shore.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou apologised for the lack of laws regulating tourist craft and pledged to propose laws to Parliament to fix this with a view to a March 1, 2001, effect.

    Currently the nearly 80 tourist boats operating in Cyprus have to face inspection once a year, and then only to ensure they have the requisite number of life jackets and fire extinguishers aboard for the number of people they carry, Cyprus Tourism Organisation spokeswoman Phoebe Katsouris said yesterday.

    Captain Andreas Constantinou, Senior Ship Surveyor with the Department of Merchant Shipping, concurred with Katsouris.

    "We have guidelines, which are applied whenever the Department inspects boats," Constantinou said. "However... we cannot impose them, because they are not formal legislation; they are just guidelines," he said.

    These yearly inspections are only "to see whether it (a boat) complies with safety regulations. But these regulations had nothing to do with construction," he said, adding "there wasn't any compulsory legislation to force owners to class their boats."

    He noted that owners of boats carrying tourists must have insurance to cover injury or death to their passengers, but could - and most did, he added - sail without any insurance on their craft.

    If Neophytou's vowed bill becomes law, from next March "nobody will be given any licenses to carry passengers unless the boats are classed by a recognised organisation," such as Lloyds Register of Shipping, the Cyprus Bureau of Shipping and similar organisations, Constantinou said.

    Once a craft passes classing criteria, "all these procedures and guidelines we apply at the Department of Merchant Shipping will be applied, but they will... have the form of regulations" and the force of law, he said.

    The benefit of Neophytou's pledged new laws, Constantinou said, is safety: "We will know how the boats are constructed and that they comply with certain rules," after classification and annual inspection, instead of merely counting the number of life jackets aboard, as is done now.

    Constantinou said Neophytou made it clear that "if Parliament rejects this bill, then they cannot ask the government why a vessel sunk, why it caught fire, why people died or were injured. And we are entering Europe, so we have to comply with European standards also," he added.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [08] Please stop smoking at the House

    ENVIRONMENTALISTS and journalists yesterday joined forces to demand an end to smoking during House of Representatives committee meetings.

    The Green party and the Journalists' Union yesterday both sent letters to House president Spyros Kyprianou urging him to enforce a regulation banning smoking during committee sessions.

    The regulation is routinely ignored by deputies, those invited to appear before committees and reporters covering debates.

    The Journalists' Union also sent letters to all parliamentary correspondents asking them to "set an example" by not lighting up when at the House.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 3, 2000

    [09] We’ll strike to keep our siesta, shopkeepers warn

    By Melina Demetriou

    SHOPKEEPERS Union Povek is threatening to go on strike to stop the government from putting into effect a plan to cut down on summer time "siesta months", chairman Melios Georgiou told a news conference yesterday.

    The Labour Ministry has announced that the 1-4pm siesta hours will only come into effect during July and August, not from June to mid-September, as had been the case since the 1930s.

    Povek this week called on its members to shut down anyway between 1 and 4 pm from June 1, whatever the government may decide.

    On Monday, Povek's Central Committee is meeting to decide measures, which could include strikes and demonstrations, in order to keep the "siesta period" intact.

    Georgiou accused the government of looking after the interests of supermarket owners, who want their businesses to operate on a free timetable.

    "Liberalisation and the interests of the few owners of big businesses like hypermarkets who manage to make a profit by offering long-hour service and can afford a big staff, have led the government to overlook our rights," said Georgiou.

    "When stores are free to offer services at any time, any day, how are we supposed to survive? They will close us down. We cannot possibly stay open from 8am to 7pm. Our employees will not accept to work overtime, and we cannot afford extra employees. Not to mention the added cost of electricity for operating extra hours. Why should we have to work so many hours and be deprived of the right to spend time with our families and friends? This is obscene in the year 2000."

    Povek's chairman and that not only did employees want to go home during hot summer afternoons, but so did consumers. No one would go to the shops in temperatures 40 degrees Celsius.


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