|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-26
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Friday, July 26, 2002
 House approves means testing for child benefitBy George Psyllides
THE HOUSE yesterday approved a law providing for the introduction of means testing in assessing child benefits.
Thirty-one deputies from AKEL, DIKO, KISOS, ADIK and the United Democrats voted for the bill, while 17 deputies from ruling DISY and the New Horizons chose to abstain.
Green party deputy George Perdikis voted against the bill.
The law provides for an annual payment of £250 to families with one child and an annual income not in excess of £13,000.
Families earning between £13,001 and £27,000 would receive £200 a year, while families with one child and over £27,000 in annual income are not eligible for an allowance.
Families with two children and an annual income up to £16,000 would be getting £600, while incomes up to £31,000 would allow them £500.
Two-child families with an income exceeding £31,000 do not get an allowance.
Households with incomes under £18,000 and three children have a right to an annual allowance of £1,400, falling to £1,200 for households earning between £18,001 and £34,000 per annum.
Families with over £34,000 in income are not allowed any cash payment.
Four-children families and incomes up to £21,000 would get £2,600 a year, while an income of up to £34,000 would fetch them £1,900.
Families with four children and an income under £44,000 have a right to a £1,200 allowance, while families with over £44,000 in income would not receive any benefits.
The law provides an allowance of £500 for any additional child over four and if families have an income of under £21,000 then the allowance would rise to £550.
Payments until the age of 18 for girls, or 23 if they are studying. For boys, the allowance is paid until they complete their army duty or until 25 if they are students.
The plenum approved an amendment submitted by DISY, which provides that eligible families would receive their allowance every six months if they have from one to three children, and every month if they have four children.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 'Give up strike threat and solution can be found'By Soteris Charalambous
THE POSSIBILITY of power cuts next week still loomed large yesterday as the government announced its refusal negotiate the renewal of the proposed collective employment agreement until the unions representing Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) workers withdrew their threat of industrial action.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou delivered the announcement in response to unions threatening a work to rule, which would effectively reduce EAC output to half the national requirement. The action is scheduled to start at 7am on Tuesday and will continue for 48 hours unless an agreement with the government is reached.
Papapetrou opened the path to the negotiating table on the condition that the strike threat was abandoned first, saying there was a possibility of finding "a satisfactory and tangible solution." He added the differences between the two sides, "were very small and insignificant."
The Hoteliers' association (PASIXA) and the Cyprus Chamber s of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) yesterday released announcements condemning the threatened strike action, citing the possibility of disruption to the emergency services in addition to the potential damage to the tourism industry. The timing of the action, during a critical period in the tourism season, has raised considerable concerns.
EAC spokesman Costas Gavrielides confirmed that the threatened action would undoubtedly lead to power cuts, although attempts would be made to limit to four hours the duration any area would face without electricity by 'rotating' the delivery of the supply.
The dispute has arisen because the EAC workers' collective agreement, which expired at the end of 2000, was not renewed. A preliminary agreement had been reached between EAC management and the unions but remains subject to formal approval by the Commerce and Finance Ministries.
According to Gavrielides, the sticking point in the preliminary agreement, "involves the restructuring of the organisation."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 EAC to be barred from bidding for GSM licenceBy Jean Christou
THE Cabinet decided yesterday not to allow the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to bid for a mobile licence later this year, but the semi- government body will be able to approach the winning bidder and offer its services in partnership.
A senior government source told the Cyprus Mail that the Cabinet decision would probably be issued today, after ministers decided not to go public with the decision yesterday.
"The Cabinet decided that the EAC will be entitled to participate, but not from the beginning," the source said. "It will not be able to join a consortium but will be entitled to co-operate with the successful bidder."
It will also be allowed to bid independently in any future expansion of the telecoms market, the source added.
The Cabinet decision ended three weeks of postponements and speculation after a rift developed between the ministers of communication and industry over whether the EAC should be allowed to compete as a bidder against the telecommunications authority CyTA, which has held a decades-long monopoly on the island.
The proposal to allow the EAC to bid ran into trouble when Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis and Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou disagreed over whether it should be eligible for a mobile telephony licence when the market was opened up later this year.
Neophytou said the EAC should be barred because it was a semi-government organisation, arguing that far from being a step towards liberalising the market, it would further nationalise the sector by involving a second semi- government organisation.
Rolandis, however, says that the EAC should be allowed to bid for a licence because it has the infrastructure to do so. He said it would be unfair for the EAC have to face the liberalisation of its own sector without having he opportunity to diversify and expand into other areas to offset competition in the electricity market.
"The Cabinet decision on the issue is acceptable to everyone," the government source told the Mail. He said the ministers had decided that if the EAC was allowed to co-operate with any of the main bidders in a consortium, "the bid might be seen to have been favoured somehow".
"If the EAC had participated from the beginning, it would have a one in twenty chance of being successful," the source said.
"When the successful bidder is decided, then the EAC will be entitled to lease its equipment to the successful bidder and also participate in the bidder's equity in direct ratio to the value of the services it will be offering."
The EAC will not be allowed to approach any of the bidders beforehand to establish a possible future co-operation, the source said.
The government hopes to open up the mobile phone sector in October and expressions of interest have been received from international companies such as Vodafone, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes other companies from the US, France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cassoulides: no point in UN plan with current Turkish instabilityBy Alexia Saoulli
FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday the United Nations should think twice before submitting a Cyprus problem settlement plan, as the chances of discussing it seriously were slim given the current political instability in Turkey.
Returning from Salonica yesterday, the minister said the situation in Turkey gave no leeway for substantial suggestions, which could lead to a breakthrough in the ongoing peace talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
"There was always a thought that some plan would be submitted in the autumn, if the circumstances would allow it," Cassoulides said, referring to recent comments made by foreign officials that a comprehensive settlement plan would be drawn up and submitted by the UN at the end of the year.
But, he said, at the moment - taking developments in Turkey into consideration - the UN should think twice "whether it would be wise to submit such a plan if the possibilities for it to be discussed seriously are narrow".
"We must wait and see how the political situation in Turkey evolves," he said, explaining why he and Britain's Special Representative for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay, had discussed no issues of real substance in London last weekend. "With the way things are evolving and especially with developments in Turkey, there is no room for substantial proposals, which could break the impasse."
Although European Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen had not ruled out the possibility that Turkey might submit proposals for a solution in order to reap political benefits, Cassoulides said: "this is an issue for the 15 EU member states to see in accordance with Turkeys' compliance with the Copenhagen criteria, and how helpful Turkey is regarding developments in the Cyprus question".
Both sides' leaders have been engaged in direct talks since mid January this year, but Denktash recently requested a three-week interruption due to the summer heat.
According to the Foreign Minister, summer recess or not, if Denktash maintained the same line in the talks as he so far, the outcome would be the same and nothing would change.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Rock bottom market vulnerable to takeoversBy Jean Christou
A RALLY in world markets on Wednesday failed to spill over to the Cyprus bourse yesterday as the all-share index took another hit to end 0.42 per cent down at 84 points.
Blue chips were again the major victim of unhappy investors who knocked another 1.04 per cent off the FTSE/CySE while volume for the day reached £519,891.
Trading did start off on a positive note, a full point above Wednesday's close, but then slid into an irreversible decline, going into the red 20 minutes before the end of the session.
"Any gains just evaporated in the closing minutes," one analyst said.
Losing sectors yesterday ranged from 0.24 per cent in the 'other' companies sector to 1.74 per cent in the banking sector.
Bank of Cyprus lost another two cents to end at £1.35, Laiki shed one cent to £1.13 and Hellenic one cent to £0.69.
The index has been hitting new low after new low every day for the past week. The index is now worth only 10 per cent of the dizzy 800 points it reached late in 1999.
Some analysts expect the index to drop as far as 55-60 points but it is unlikely to go as far as zero, said Marios Clerides, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Speaking hypothetically, Clerides said that if a share price hit zero, it meant in theory that the company was bankrupt.
"But it's impossible for the index to go to go to zero because that would mean that all the companies had gone bankrupt at the same time," Clerides said.
Clerides said that even if a share price reached two cents or even one, it will retained some value to someone and would be bought. "As the price goes down, the temptation to buy a company that is not bankrupt increases," he said. "People at some point decide that shares are cheap and start buying. That's how markets work."
But the current situation or rock-bottom share prices also leaves Cypriot listed companies open to takeovers by anyone willing to purchase enough shares to give them a strong hold. Clerides said this would not be a bad thing.
"Eventually, institutional investors will come in," he said. "They will say 'why invest in a bank in Greece when I can invest in a bank in Cyprus at a cheaper price' and of course if someone comes in and buys, then the market will go up again."
He also said outsiders buying into and taking over companies with weak share prices had the option of breaking up the companies and selling off assets and property.
"Take a hotel: even if its share price comes close to zero, you can buy say at one cent and break up the company and sell the hotel, the physical property," he said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Forget the crash diets and slimming pillsBy Alexia Saoulli
THE ONLY way to lose weight is to change your eating habits and increase physical exercise, a Nicosia diet specialist said yesterday.
Although this may sound like common sense, a huge number of people opt instead for diet pills, food supplements and crash diets, said Despina Avraam.
Diet pills, particularly amphetamine-based pills, have on the whole been forbidden by the pharmaceutical services. However, there are a number that still exist on the market and are sold over the counter, Avraam said. The President of the Pancyprian Pharmacy Association, Nicos Nouris, was yesterday unavailable for comment on this matter.
"You're supposed to have a prescription, but there are still people that are able to buy them. Or, even worse, there are some overweight individuals that obtain prescriptions from their physicians." This was irresponsible, she said, since the use of an anorectic agent had serious physical and psychological side effects.
"Patients find themselves having palpitations, insomnia, become highly nervous and sometimes these pills can even lead to renal failure," said Avraam, adding that these side-effects were on the pills' list of complications. "On top of that, patients become psychologically addicted to the pills and don't want to stop them. What happens is, they lose a drastic amount of weight very quickly and then, once they stop the pills, the weight piles on at double the rate it was lost in the first place."
Food supplements that claim to burn fat are also an outrageous myth: they just don't work and have been clinically proven not to, she said.
If someone wants to lose weight, they should visit a professional dietician with a University degree and not some of the "charlatans" that are only out to take your money, promising "miracle weight loss programmes," Avraam told the Cyprus Mail.
"The best way, is the orthodox way," she said. "In other words, you have to cut your calories and increase your physical output. Diets are like a tailor-made suit and need to be designed according to an individual's measurements." A person's age, sex, physical activity and work habits all need to be taken into consideration before a well-balanced diet sheet is drawn up. For instance, if a person usually needs 2,000 calories a day to sustain their normal weight, a weight loss programme will include only half those calories. "In other words that's 7,000 calories less in a week, which means a kilo in weight loss. If you add exercise into the programme you should lose 1-1.5 kilos in a week," she said. Usually, women need 1,800-2, 000 calories a day and men need 2,200.
"You need at least 60 per cent carbohydrates in your diet and 15 per cent protein. The rest must be made up of fats. All these theories about only eating protein and vegetables and avoiding things like bread, rice and potatoes are absolutely ridiculous," said Avraam.
The problem is that a number of people, particularly girls, decide in May that it's time to lose weight before they hit the beach.
"They want to go to bed and wake up thin in the morning. This is simply crazy, but still leads a number of young girls to go on mad starvation diets that seriously jeopardise their health."
She warned crash diets could result in reduced iron levels, hair loss and menstruation problems.
"Women are in serious danger of stopping to have a period. I've had young girls deciding that eating an apple and a diet 7-Up a day would suffice. Before long, they lose their period and it's a struggle getting their organism back into functioning order for their menstrual cycle to start up again," she said, adding that in one case it had taken one patient two years.
The problem, according to Avraam, is this "Twiggy image" splashed all over the media. Cypriots prefer to be underweight, instead of accepting their body shape.
"Besides if you go to the gym your big thighs won't be a problem," she pointed out. "The goddess Aphrodite is the ideal woman. She was thin and yet had her fair share of a bottom. She had something to grab on to and men think it's sexy. That the ideal, not this Twiggy look that's so popular at the moment."
So what should people eat?
"You need a little bit of everything in your diet every day. All day apple diets or all day protein diets do not work in the long run and are very unhealthy. Any clinical dietician will tell you that," she said.
Bread, for instance, is very important and is part of a Cypriot's staple food, but for some absurd reason, people think that it is "fattening" and should be avoided. This is a complete myth, said Avraam.
"You need to change your eating habits so that they become a way of life. Our Mediterranean diet is the perfect way to eat because it includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, pulses, fish and olive oil. We are so lucky and don't know it. We have all this health food readily available at our fingertips and do not take advantage of it."
She said Americans and Europeans were even trying to adopt our diet while we seemed to adopt the American way and eat high-cholesterol fast food instead of following our grandparents' example.
"I'm not saying your can't enjoy your food. You can even have sugar, up to 10 per cent in a day in fact, and that includes ice cream or a cake, not just healthy forms of sugar such as honey. People have to realise that they do not need to cut out things they like, or to punish themselves by starving to lose weight. It merely takes time and a new way of learning how to eat and exercise, until it becomes a pattern," she said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Unlisted millions must be returnedBy George Psyllides
THE HOUSE last night approved a bill forcing companies that were not listed on the Cyprus stock market (CSE) to return millions of pounds to investors.
The law provides that companies have to return the money within 30 days from the day they have been demanded with a seven per cent interest calculable from the day they had been paid to the company.
Companies that fail to comply could face stiff penalties including five years imprisonment, according to the law.
An amendment submitted by AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou provides for the return of up to £20,000 or two thousandths of the company's share capital with the right to choose the highest amount.
It is thought that around £1 billion is currently held by companies -- £250 million by companies that applied, and the rest by companies that have not yet applied for listing.
The bill hit a glitch earlier this month after the Supreme Court upheld a company's appeal not to return any money to investors because it went against Articles 25 and 26 of the constitution, which stipulate the rights of every person to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business as well as to enter freely into any contract.
The bill went through after the attorney-general ruled that the Supreme Court's decision concerned the specific case while the law proposal was more general.
Voting the particular bill was justified on public interest grounds, the attorney-general said.
Twenty-five deputies voted for the bill, while 10 abstained.
There were no votes against though there were warnings that many companies cold be forced to declare bankruptcy since they have already invested the money they received for shares.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Israeli Champions League football to be played at GSPBy Soteris Charalambous
FIVOS Constandinides, Head of the GSP stadium in Nicosia, yesterday confirmed that Macabi Haifa's Champions League second round qualifying match against FC Belishna Bobruisk of Belarus would take place next Wednesday at the stadium and that the costs for staging the game would be met by the Israeli FA and the team.
UEFA, European football's governing body, ordered the Israeli FA to advise its teams to play their European cup games outside Israel because of the continued political instability in the country.
The Israeli FA, representing Macabi Tel Aviv, and Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup as well as Macabi Haifa in the Champions League, contacted the Cypriot FA to seek permission to stage the ties at the GSP. The choice to stage the games in Cyprus was made following the success of the match played there between Hapoel and AC Milan in last season's UEFA Cup.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou had earlier suggested a decision had not yet been taken as to whether the match would go ahead, although Constandinides refuted the suggestion, insisting the decision had already been made. He added: "the (European Cup) games have been arranged to be played for all three teams, although the government has put in a proviso to wait until Wednesday's match has been played before formally confirming that the rest of the matches will be staged here."
Macabi Tel Aviv are scheduled to play on the July 29, while the date for Hapoel Tel Aviv's match has yet to be confirmed as it clashes with Anorthosis's UEFA cup tie. "UEFA have yet to confirm a date but it is likely to be on the 17th," said Constandinides.
He confirmed that stadium security would again be high but probably not to the levels seen for last season's match, given that only around 300 fans were expected to travel to matches in the early stages of the competition. Almost 5,000 fans turned up for the quarter-final tie last season. The details of matches were discussed in a meeting between both FAs three weeks ago. "There will be strict security measures but not as intense as the last time. The Israeli FA will cover the expense for security, while the clubs will pay the stadium costs," said Constandinides. Ticket prices will again be set by the Israeli clubs, and are expected to be around £15.
Football fans will have the chance to witness more Champions League football as Apoel Nicosia negotiated their path into the second round with a narrow win over FC Flora and now face Slovenian champions NK Maribor. If either side manage to make their way into the third round qualifying stage, it opens up the tantalising prospect of a high-profile clash with a club from Spain, England or Italy, with the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan awaiting the teams to successfully emerge from the next round.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002