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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-07

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

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


Thursday, February 7, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides to skip Commonwealth summit
  • [02] Fixed prices on the way out
  • [03] Ref resigns under pressure of match fixing allegations
  • [04] Deal for Luton and Stansted charters
  • [05] Maid remanded over 75,000 theft
  • [06] New low for CSE
  • [07] $22,000 stolen
  • [08] J&P sues government after being left off airport shortlist
  • [09] Building sector in decline for ninth year running
  • [10] Government hails union backing for civil service wage cuts
  • [11] We need experts to probe technical aspects of CSE fiasco
  • [12] Bicommunal union meeting to be discussed in Brussels
  • [13] Land prices warning as VAT looms
  • [14] Petrol prices could be voted down today
  • [15] Shops in protest closure today

  • [01] Clerides to skip Commonwealth summit

    By Jennie Matthew

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides will not attend the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, in a bid to speed up the talks' process.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou made this announcement yesterday. He added that Athens and Ankara are in constant contact ahead of a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in Istanbul.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who will attend the Brisbane summit in the President's place next month, will also attend the Joint European Union - Organisation of the Islamic Conference Forum.

    Although Papapetrou said it was "not feasible at present" for Cassoulides to solicit a personal meeting with Cem, he said the minister's attendance was "in itself of immense political significance" in terms of EU enlargement and efforts to solve the Cyprus question.

    Turkey is a co-organiser of the conference and Cyprus, as a candidate country for the EU, is on the guest list.

    The flurry of diplomatic activity also includes the arrival of the British Special Envoy for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay on Tuesday, for a whistle-stop two-day visit.

    He will have separate appointments with Clerides, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto, who is chairing the current negotiations.

    Papapetrou said Hannay's visit was not connected to any specific aspect of the peace process.

    US Special Adviser to Cyprus, Thomas Weston, will also hold talks in Athens and Ankara at the beginning of March, although he is not expected in Nicosia.

    Responding to comments from Denktash that the two sides share mutual ideas about security,

    Papapetrou said there was no agreement on anything unless there was a full agreement on everything, adding that it was premature to draw conclusions about the true intentions of the Turks.

    The scheduled meetings between Clerides and Denktash next Monday and Wednesday have been axed.

    They will be replaced by a rendezvous at 4pm tomorrow and an extra session next Thursday, the UN said yesterday.

    Yesterday's meeting, the tenth since the process began at the middle of last month, lasted 90 minutes.

    Meanwhile, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Patriotic Unity Party, Izzet Izcan met leader of the Greek Coalition Party, Nicos Constanopoulos, on a two-day visit to the island at the Ledra Palace yesterday.

    Speaking afterwards, Izcan said that the current proximity talks between Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were not going well.

    He said now was the most important time for Cyprus since 1974 and urged the two sides to ignore foreign interests and make a deal.

    Leader of the Turkish Republic Party, Mehmet Talat who had a separate meeting with Constanopoulos said the Cyprus problem had to be solved by the end of the year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Fixed prices on the way out

    EU membership will mark the end of the regulation of charges in professional sectors.

    EU regulations required unhindered free trade so the current recommended tariffs that govern fees charged by anyone from lawyers to doctors or barbers will have to be done away with.

    The President of the Committee for the Protection of Competition, Lakis Tselebos, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the lack of regulation would not be a bad thing for consumers.

    "Free trade does not mean an increase in prices. There are three things that will come about from competition: striving for better quality, better services and better prices," said Tselebos.

    According to Tselebos, each profession has its ruling body, which decides what minimum tariffs should be.

    "For instance, the Bar Association will tell law firms what the minimum charge should be for a letter," he said.

    The Committee's decisions regarding the liberalisation of the tariffs, which will be announced today, have been based on a study to see whether the professional governing bodies were in fact keeping to existing recommended prices.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Ref resigns under pressure of match fixing allegations

    AN ASSISTANT referee accused of fixing football games has handed in his resignation because of personal problems caused by the allegations.

    Antonis Papapanayiotou handed his written resignation to the Football Federation (KOP), stating the allegations had caused him problems in his family life, forcing him to give up refereeing. He maintains his innocence.

    Olympiacos Chairman Christoforos Tornaritis last month levelled the accusations against Papapanayiotou, a policeman, after the end of the cup fixture between his club and Anorthosis, which Anorthosis won 2-0.

    Papapanayiotou has also informed the Referees' Committee and Referees' Union and KOP will be informing FIFA of his resignation to cancel his memberships.

    Tornaritis said yesterday that Papapanayiotou's resignation would not stop the KOP investigation, as other names had since been linked to the scandal.

    The allegations sparked bitter exchanges between club officials and promises from KOP that the matter would be investigated.

    KOP is working closely with the police, who have also launched an investigation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Deal for Luton and Stansted charters

    CHARTERED flights from Luton and Stansted to Paphos and Larnaca will begin this year, according to a memorandum on air transport signed yesterday between Britain and Cyprus.

    High season flights from Stansted to Cyprus will begin in 2002, joined by regular winter through to summer flights from Luton in 2002-3.

    Talks between the Ministry of Communications and Public Works and the British Department of Transport on "open skies" policy concluded in Cyprus with the signing of the agreement.

    The Director General of the Cypriot ministry, Stathis Champoulas, and Assistant Director of International Air Transport in the British ministry, Nigel Milton, signed the treaty.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Maid remanded over 75,000 theft

    A SRI LANKAN housemaid was remanded for eight days by Limassol District Court yesterday on suspicion of stealing 75,000 worth of jewellery and money from the couple who employed her.

    The 30-year-old migrant worker, Anna Rasainka, was working for Nina and Pavlos Pastidou, both doctors, when 75,000 worth of jewellery and money was snatched from the family's home in Arsos village last Friday.

    Shortly afterwards, Rasainka asked her employers to fund her ticket back to Sri Lanka, saying she'd had enough of life in Cyprus.

    But travel plans were put on hold when taxi driver Tassos Andreou went to police, telling them he'd taken her to Limassol on the day of the burglary.

    Andreou said he drove Rasainka from Arsos to Limassol, where he waited 40 minutes before driving her back.

    Alarm bells rang, he said, when three days later she called him and asked him to keep the taxi ride a secret.

    Neither was there any sign of forced entry on the back door of the Pastidou home, alighting suspicions that it might have been an inside job.

    The maid initially denied all knowledge of the theft, but later allegedly confessed and led officers to a building near her work, where most of the booty was stashed.

    The investigation continues.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] New low for CSE

    SHARE prices plunged another 1.37 per cent yesterday, taking the all-share index to 119 points, another low for the year. The FTSE/CYSE index fell 1.38 per cent to 491 points, while volume for the day remained low at 2 million.

    All sub sectors ended in the red, with losses ranging from 0.19 per cent in the financial services sector to 3.02 per cent in the fish culture companies.

    Banking stocks were also hard hit, shedding 1.47 per cent as the three main banks came under heavy selling pressure. Bank of Cyprus dropped one cent to 1.87 while Laiki fell five cents to 1.41 and Hellenic dropped two cents to 85 cents. Losers outpaced gainers 64:12 while 63 shares remained unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] $22,000 stolen

    POLICE announced yesterday that $22,000 had been stolen from a safe in the Eurocypria Department of Catering at Larnaca Airport yesterday.

    Director of the Company Miltos Miltiadous announced the theft to journalists last night. He said the money had been stored in the safe since August 28 last year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] J&P sues government after being left off airport shortlist

    By Jean Christou

    THE STATE'S ambitious plan to lure private investors to build and run the island's new airports has run into trouble after a consortium led by J&P, which includes the British Airport Authority (BAA), filed a law suit against the government after failing to make the final shortlist.

    The final shortlist of five candidates did not include the J&P (Joannou and Paraskeviades) consortium, which came in sixth place.

    The well-known local construction company, which has huge interests throughout the region, filed suit against the government 10 days ago in a case due to be heard later this month.

    The issue is now with the Attorney-general's office, which has reportedly brought in the government's central tenders commission to review the screening process.

    Under normal circumstances, the board would not have become involved until the final five tenders had been submitted, and issues its decision based on tenders' procedures. The final five were to have been submitted next month for selection around September.

    However, if J&P succeeds in getting a court to declare the entire bidding process null and void, it could delay the government's plans to forge ahead with construction of the new airports.

    The state is seeking a strategic partner to sink some 200 into the Larnaca and Paphos airports in 'build-operate-transfer' (BOT) projects that would see them in private hands for the next 20 years.

    The J&P consortium includes BAA, ABB Equity Ventures and Hellenic Technodomiki.

    Sources close to the company told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the way the consortium's bid had been evaluated was "wrong" and "unjust". The company's letter of objection was ignored by the Communications and Works Ministry, which J&P said was not good enough, and the consortium resorted to legal action, the source said.

    "It was unjustifiable that the company was excluded," the source said. 'There was a provision in the document that said they had the right to pre- qualify five companies or more. J&P believes its consortium was much stronger in all aspects."

    The bidders were assessed on the merits of their technical know-how, airport experience and financial resources.

    A government source involved in the screening process told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that there were certain criteria that J&P didn't fulfil, but did not elaborate.

    "Its application was rated and it came sixth," the source said. "It was a very transparent procedure."

    Speaking from Frankfurt yesterday, Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail the issue was with the Attorney- general's office. "There wasn't and there will not be any political involvement in these things," he said, adding he didn't believe the J&P lawsuit would hold up the airport project.

    "I'm responsible for the BOT project and not for the legal matters," he added.

    The five companies chosen for the final tenders procedure are:

    1.Alterra Consortium, which took part in the development of Singapore and Manchester airports and includes Cypriot companies Lanitis E.C. Estates, Amathus Navigation Co Ltd, Cybarco and Caramondani Bros. The Royal Bank of Scotland is also involved.

    2. Cyprus Gateway Airports consortium, which was involved in the Vienna Airport project and includes Cypriot partners George P. Zachariades construction.

    3. Fraport AG includes investors from the Frankfurt Airport project, and the Cypriot Lefkoniko Investment Group.

    4. Hermes Airports comprises investors from three international airport projects, including Irish group Aer Rianta. Cypriot participants include Charilaos Apostolides, CTC, Egis Projects and Iacovou Brothers.

    5. Project Pegasus, a Spanish airport consortium, which does not include any Cypriot partners.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Building sector in decline for ninth year running

    THE CONSTRUCTION industry was hit by depression for the ninth year running in 2000 - reporting a 2.2 per cent decline, with building permits down, work dwindling and a rising cost of overheads.

    The figures were released yesterday in a report prepared by the government's statistical department.

    The sector has been depressed since the early 1990s, reversing the boom trend that reversed the deep recession of 1974-6.

    The real value of new construction work in 2000 fell 3.5 per cent to 588.3 million compared to 591.6 million in 1999 and real investment dropped by 2.3 per cent.

    Despite a 7.2 per cent increase in value, the number of authorised building permits fell 433 to 6,096 and the number of completed dwellings was down 19.7 per cent to 5,083 units, compared to 6,327 in 1999.

    Rising overheads played a role in cutting profit margins - labour costs posted a 4.3 per cent increase and prices for raw materials jumped - up 27 per cent in the case of bricks.

    The industry accounts for 8.2 per cent of the employed population.

    Of the work completed, housing topped the scale at 48.3 per cent; transport came second at 14.2 per cent, with services at 8.8 per cent, trade 7.8 per cent and hotels 5.7 per cent.

    The sector declined 0.7 per cent in 1999 and 0.3 per cent in 1998.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Government hails union backing for civil service wage cuts

    By Melina Demetriou

    FINANCE Minister Takis Klerides yesterday hailed an agreement reached between the largest civil servants' union PASYDY and the government on Tuesday aiming to reduce junior state employees' wages.

    Klerides said that once the plan was implemented the wage gap between public and private sector employees would narrow.

    Despite PASYDY's approval, state secondary school teachers and doctors remain opposed to the plan.

    The government proposal would cut civil service wages by 10 per cent for the first two years of service.

    Supporters of the plan says it will benefit staff in the long run as they will step up the promotion ladder at a quicker pace.

    The plan, however, is still a long way from being implemented. Apart from PASYDY, other civil service unions such as teachers' OELMEK, doctors' PASYKI and the Police Association must also give their consent to the scheme before a bill is submitted to Parliament for approval.

    The Finance Minister yesterday described PASYDY's backing as "a very important development."

    "I think this is an important decision by PASYDY because the view of the government and the political parties has for years been that disparities between public and private sector wages should gradually be narrowed down," said the minister, adding that the measure would in the long run cut public spending.

    But OELMEK and PASYKI were unhappy with the development.

    "PASYDY's decision does not affect us. Until there is a proposal concerning doctors' wages we will not deal with this matter," PASYKI chairman Stavros Stavrou said yesterday.

    "Doctors' salaries froze some 20 year ago," Stavrou said, accusing the government of wanting to sell off government departments to the private sector.

    OELMEK chairman Takis Gavrielides went further, stressing the need for "massive resistance to the plan by all civil servants' organisations."

    Ruling DISY spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos yesterday saluted the agreement between PASYDY and the government, describing it as "the first responsible step".

    "The move will help balance public finances and reduce the huge amount currently spent on state employees' salaries," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] We need experts to probe technical aspects of CSE fiasco

    By Melina Demetriou

    HOUSE Watchdog Committee Chairman Christos Pourgourides of DISY yesterday warned the government that deputies would be unable to complete an investigation into the stock market fiasco without the help of experts.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides conceded the state should appoint advisers to assist with the probe.

    During a joint meeting of the Watchdog and Finance Committees conducting the investigation, Pourgourides yesterday branded the House of Representatives "a replica of a Parliament", pointing out that the US Senate was to spend tens of millions of dollars to investigate the Enron scam.

    "I feel shame when I think that the American Senate invites specialists to advise them on company law, oil matters and other subjects. Of course, I am realistic and don't dare to dream that we would ever reach that level," a frustrated Pourgourides said.

    Addressing Finance Minister Klerides, Pourgourides was adamant the committees would not be able to complete the investigation without help from specialists.

    "When we get to the point when we have to look into companies' practices, we will definitely need experts to give us some advice," he said.

    "If the government fails to cover our needs, then we will be forced to make a contract with a private firm and end up getting sued," Pourgourides warned.

    The minister conceded that deputies in general did need experts' advice to improve the quality of their work.

    Klerides added each American senator had a staff of 25 consultants.

    AKEL deputy George Lillikas suggested that the government hired experts on a temporary basis to help finish the investigation.

    Klerides reacted favourably to the idea and promised to promote it.

    The minister had been due to finish a marathon speech that he started delivering before the committees last week outlining his responsibilities in the stock market issue, but the discussion was adjourned until next week.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Bicommunal union meeting to be discussed in Brussels

    MEMBERS of the central committees of trade unions from both sides of the Green Line may travel to Brussels to discuss how the cancelled all-island trade forum could still be held.

    Sotiroulla Charalambous of PEO trade union told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that due to the problems their Turkish Cypriot counterparts were experiencing in crossing to attend the forum, that they would try to organise a trip to Brussels to discuss ways to proceed.

    The forum, which includes participants from all trade unions on the island, was due to be held on both sides between February 22-24. However, Charalambous said that, due to the problems experienced by the Turkish Cypriots and the refusal of Greek Cypriot participants to sign forms to enter the north, it had been decided to postpone the event.

    She said there was no question of holding the forum abroad. "That is not the solution," she said. "It's important that the forum be held in Cyprus."

    The unions have not yet decided when the Brussels trip might take place, Charalambous added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [13] Land prices warning as VAT looms

    THE ASSOCIATION of Land Developers is proposing a series of measures to offset the burden caused by the introduction of VAT on land sales once Cyprus joins the European Union.

    The President of the group, Lakis Tofarides told Phileleftheros yesterday that VAT charges, possibly as high as 15 per cent, coupled with other duties could make land more than twice as expensive in Cyprus as in other European Union countries.

    He said a plot currently worth about 50,000 could rise to 57,000 once VAT of 15 per cent was added on to the transaction.

    To keep the business fluid, the Association wants the fees for the transferral of deeds, currently charged at between three and seven per cent abolished.

    Other suggestions include the abolition of construction and town planning licences, as well as a VAT exemption on first homes and offices.

    At the last General Assembly of the Association, retiring president Michalis Leptos called for a five-year transition period after Cyprus joins the EU before VAT is applied to land.

    Anxious about the effect that VAT of 15 per cent would have on sales, he advocated a levy of just three per cent.

    Industry sources say there has been a big increase in demand for land in Cyprus, until now exempt from taxation.

    The industry is facing a shortening of supply, and fears that inflation and escalating prices might dry up business, now in boom as pre-crash stock market fortunes are reinvested into land and as more foreigners wooed by imminent EU membership are choosing to settle in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [14] Petrol prices could be voted down today

    By Melina Demetriou

    PUMP prices might go down by one cent a litre today if the House approves a government bill at its afternoon plenary session.

    However, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday made an independent suggestion calling on Parliament to postpone voting on the proposal until the end of the month to cover losses that the government had suffered from subsidising oil companies when international prices were high.

    The price of crude oil currently stands at between $18 and $20 per barrel while a few months ago it was $30.

    One deputy on the House Finance Committee told reporters yesterday he believed the bill cutting pump prices by 1 cent per litre would pass through Parliament today.

    But Rolandis asked the House to call off today's vote, arguing the state had lost 50 million in the past few years from subsidising oil companies.

    "What I ask is that prices remain unchanged until the end of the month. I cannot say what will happen after that," he said.

    The minister said that if his proposal were endorsed then 800,000 would end up in state coffers by the beginning of March.

    Rolandis added the government would soon change the way it regulated pump prices to come into line with EU practices. He said pump prices in Cyprus were low for the time being, but would go up with EU accession, slated for 2004.

    The Finance Committee heard yesterday that that the law regulating oil companies' profit making was outdated.

    The law has been in force since 1970, and guarantees oil companies a fixed profit of 12 per cent after taxes on their capital.

    AKEL deputy George Lillikas said the system allowed companies to increase their operational expenses without having to worry about profits and blamed the establishment for putting up with the situation.

    Committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou described the law as "ancient" and said there was effectively a legal vacuum on the issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [15] Shops in protest closure today

    SMALL and medium sized shops across the island will stop work at 11am today in protest at what they say is unfair competition from hypermarkets.

    "We have no way of knowing how many shops will close, but we believe many of them will respond to the letter we sent out," POVEK Secretary-general Melios Georgiou said yesterday.

    The small shopkeeper's union POVEK decided at a meeting in Limassol on January 23 that the "unsatisfactory response" to their demands about the wholesale industry could go on no more.

    Small and medium-sized shops around the nation have decided to lock their doors and assemble outside the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and House of Representatives in protest.

    "We are fed up with hypermarkets selling products below wholesale price, violating sales periods and violating working hours. In Limassol, for instance, hypermarkets are now allowed to stay open till 10pm because it's a tourist district. However, it's mostly locals that use them at that time, which is unfair to the other shops that shut at 7pm, because they lose business," said Georgiou.

    According to Georgiou over the past year, dozens of shops have already closed down in Limassol because of this, and small shops around the island have been unable to cope with the "unfair competition" in the industry.

    Georgiou hoped their demands would be heard once and for all, but was unable to say what direction the action would take.

    He said the Union expected a mass gathering from all over the island in support of the demonstration.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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