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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-04

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

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


Wednesday, June 4, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Benefits for Turkish Cypriots only if once they register for tax and social insurance
  • [02] Tough decisions loom as Cyprus faces lower growth
  • [03] Local authorities to work on better drainage as government assesses flood damage
  • [04] CY’s Hellas Jet still waiting for a licence on eve of launch
  • [05] New junction causes traffic mayhem
  • [06] Timeshare company refused licence to employ 105 foreign sales reps
  • [07] Rear seatbelts for twin cabins too
  • [08] Serdar walkout: Omirou reaches out to Turkish Cypriots but stands by remarks
  • [09] Farmer killed in road accident

  • [01] Benefits for Turkish Cypriots only if once they register for tax and social insurance

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TURKISH Cypriots are only allowed unemployment benefits if they fulfil certain prerequisites, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.

    He was responding to an article in Sunday’s Politis by Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent, which asked: “If an unemployed Turkish Cypriot goes to the Cyprus Republic’s Authorities presenting verification documents that he is a resident of the Republic and demands unemployment benefits, with what legal argument can his claim be rejected? Who can tell this citizen: ‘You live in the occupied areas?’ - and are therefore not allowed this benefit.”

    Unemployment registrar official Emilios Christofi told the Cyprus Mail that Turkish Cypriots were allowed the same benefits as Greek Cypriots as long as they met specific criteria enabling them to claim unemployment benefits. “This is no different to what applies to Greek Cypriots,” he said.

    “They have to have worked for more than six months or, if they’re claiming the benefit after July 1 this year, for a total period of 20 weeks during last year,” he said. If they made the claim before July 1, the 20 working weeks would apply to the previous year in 2001, Christofi explained.

    “Turkish Cypriots who work in the United Nations for instance, are allowed to claim this benefit, because they contribute to the social insurance fund, ” he said. By working in the occupied areas, however, they did not contribute to the fund in any way, because the government controlled areas did not have any agreements with the occupying regime in the north.

    In the same article, Levent also referred to the new law allowing universal child benefit and said it was “another right you (Turkish Cypriots) can benefit from”.

    However, Turkish Cypriots can only claim this social benefit if they are registered with the tax registrars, if they submit tax statements and if they pay social insurance, said Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

    “The government’s policy is to offer all Cyprus Republic citizens all the advantages that are offered by the Republic,” he said. But “rights, simultaneously mean obligations. If, therefore, Turkish Cypriots wish to claim child benefits then they will have to register with the tax register, to submit their tax statements, (and) their social insurance so that they can properly exercise their rights as part of the Republic,” said Chrysostomides.

    He added that Turkish Cypriots who working in the free areas were already registered and regularly paid social insurance and taxes and were therefore allowed full benefits.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [02] Tough decisions loom as Cyprus faces lower growth

    By Michele Kambas

    THE GOVERNMENT faces tough decisions on curbing budget deficits if it is to meet its target of adopting the euro as soon as possible after the country joins the European Union.

    Wide ranging tax reforms introduced by the previous government before it came to power in a February general election are combining with low growth prospects to push the fiscal deficit higher.

    Current projections see the deficit spiking to 3.9 per cent in 2003, and easing to 3.4 per cent in 2004, exceeding the government’s target of meeting single currency criteria of three per cent or less.

    Cyprus, due to join the EU next May alongside Malta and eight eastern European states, has set an aim of 2006 for entering the eurozone, giving authorities just less than three years to tidy up their finances.

    The government’s main player, Communist AKEL, is philosophically reluctant to close the budget gap with privatisation, although some analysts believe it may come to that.

    The government also says new taxes would be a last resort to plug deficits, but it has hinted that it may trim spending, a feat in itself now that Cyprus has significant overheads as it gears up for EU membership.

    “We cannot place our hopes on any sudden increase in economic activity, as we have done in the past,” says Pambos Papageorgiou, a senior researcher at Cyprus College. “Drastic measures are required.”

    The island’s fate is tied up with the fickle sector of tourism, which accounts for 25 per cent of its gross domestic product, and which has been battered as a result of the US led war on Iraq.

    The £6.2 billion economy is projected to expand by some 2.2 per cent this year, easing on last year’s 2.3 per cent.

    Economist Costas Apostolides said the government should not cut spending to stave off a widening shortfall. That would cut growth rates and stoke unemployment, he said.

    “The key to recovery is economic growth. I would recommend riding this out, maintaining the current budgetary levels and lowering interest rates,” he told Reuters.

    A government advisor, speaking on conditions of anonymity, told Reuters, “The tax reforms were introduced when the economy appeared to be rebounding, but now consumption has slackened.

    “I think that somewhere there may have also been a miscalculation.”

    Both Papageorgiou and the adviser said the government could make a good start by preparing balanced budgets and not the deficit-yielding ones passed by parliament every year.

    Lucrative state assets including state telecoms CyTA and the electricity authority EAC -- whose surpluses are already being creamed off by the government to plug deficits -- could be sold off to generate revenue.

    But that would be a bitter pill for AKEL, which is against selloffs on principle.

    As part of a deregulation drive, Cyprus plans to auction off a mobile telephone licence to the private sector by the end of October, but it is unlikely to see any major cash injections unless it privatises existing utilities, say economists.

    “I think the state may have to sell of some of its entrepreneurial activities, like the post office, telecoms and the electricity authority,” said Papageorgiou. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [03] Local authorities to work on better drainage as government assesses flood damage

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE TOTAL damages caused by Saturday’s freak storm in Nicosia will be known after an assessment report is completed on Friday, Interior Minister Andreas Christou said yesterday, adding local authorities had been asked to submit suggestions for improvements in city drainage systems.

    Christou said the amount of rainwater that had fallen in two hours on Saturday was the equivalent of 72 hours of continuous rain.

    The torrential rain, which flooded homes, shops, basements and cars, lashed the capital mercilessly, forcing the Fire Department and police force to answer hundreds of emergency calls. Claims for flood compensation have been bombarding insurance companies since.

    “Our attempts are continuing - even if we were interrupted by the rain on Monday - to achieve a full picture of the situation,” Christou said, adding he could not yet give any figures as to what the damage might have been, despite information that various people had suffered huge damage to their properties.

    “There are some shortcomings in the rainwater drainage systems, but it would be excessive to say the damage had been caused only for that reason… It is possible there are other more general things at fault,” he said. “For instance no general rainwater drainage planning for greater Nicosia has been drawn up, something which is currently being carried out in greater Limassol and will be finished within a week,” Christou added.

    “It’s not about draining water that appears on the tarmac, but about catching it on time; the bulk of water that comes from external areas towards the centre must be absorbed before it drowns or chokes the drainage system,” explained the minister. “There is no way a street’s drainage system can absorb water that has come from a kilometre away.”

    The Interior Ministry has asked the Nicosia Municipality and other Municipalities to prepare an assessment of the situation in order to determine what can be done to improve the situation, he said.

    Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zampelas has already submitted suggestions for constructing drainage systems in 150 streets, as well as the construction of pavements, Christou said.

    However, the minister said several owners had been to blame for damage to their property because they had failed to take appropriate safety measures against flooding, and said it was everyone’s individual responsibility to ensure their property’s safeguarding.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [04] CY’s Hellas Jet still waiting for a licence on eve of launch

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways is concerned that it hasn’t yet received a licence from the Greek government for an airline it plans to launch in Greece within the next three weeks.

    The worry centres on a possible conflict of interests between CY and the Greek government, the Cyprus Mail has learned. The national carrier’s new airline HellasJet, which is due to launch in Greece on June 23, could be seen by the Greek government as serious competition for its ailing carrier Olympic Airways.

    When CY decided to form HellasJet in Greece, Olympic was due to be sold off, but during the air travel crisis following September 11, 2001, the Olympic sell-off collapsed and the Greek government has been unable to offload the airline.

    CY itself had been a early bidder for Olympic but pulled out just before September 11 in favour of setting up HellasJet as a competitor to Olympic’s then prospective new owners.

    Although CY officials are currently in Athens, the delay in issuing a licence for HellasJet was not on the agenda with busy Greek officials, although it is believed that was the main reason for the visit.

    CY has enlisted the help of the Cyprus government to push Greek officials to move faster with the licensing process, although sources told the Cyprus Mail that CY had only recently submitted its application for the licence.

    “Cyprus Airways is a bit worried because HellasJet is going to be competition for Olympic and it seems the Greek government is not very keen to give a permit to an airline that is going to be their main competitor,” sources told the Cyprus Mail.

    “The airline is still optimistic that it will obtain the licence but it’s a question of time. They have the people and aircraft ready but they don’t have the permit.”

    Hellas Jet, which will be 49 per cent owned by CY and 51 per cent by two Greek banks, Alpha and Omega, is due to enter the Greek domestic market as well as provide links between Athens and five European destinations - London Heathrow, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, and either Frankfurt or Munich. CY has already leased three Airbus A320s and hired 200 staff for the new airline.

    Passengers from Cyprus would be able to use the new airline, although the national carrier already serves the routes concerned, except Munich. The partners in the airline established HellasJet with an eye on increased traffic during the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games.

    If the airline’s launch is delayed it will deal the national carrier another heavy financial blow following the recent scandal involving the renewal of CY’s own fleet, which has left the company $350 million in debt for the next 10 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [05] New junction causes traffic mayhem

    By a Staff Reporter

    RESIDENTS of Ayios Andreas in Nicosia gathered yesterday to protest against a new road layout in the area, which has resulted in more than 20 traffic accidents in two weeks.

    The protest was also attended by representatives from the town planning department, the police and the Interior Ministry.

    The works, which were completed two weeks ago, have led to traffic chaos, increased air pollution and caused a significant increase in the road accidents. Local shopkeepers have also been adversely affected.

    Member of the Ayios Andreas Residents’ Committee, Anna Marangou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday’s protest had been a success.

    “We are satisfied,” she said. “The (relevant authorities) saw the situation with their own eyes and promised to look into it. They all agreed there is a problem. Hopefully they will redesign the whole area. ”

    Marangou said the recent works had caused havoc in Ayios Andreas.

    “They altered the traffic direction so shops had no business, it went down by 50 per cent. There were also queues of traffic which we never had in the past.” Bus drivers were also reluctant to use the new road layout, with many refusing to pick up schoolchildren living in the area.

    She added that a total of 25 road accidents had occurred in the last fortnight: “Even though these were minor accidents they prove that there is something wrong with the design.”

    The Residents’ Committee is expected to meet today to take the issue further.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [06] Timeshare company refused licence to employ 105 foreign sales reps

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a company dealing in long-term holiday contracts to employ 105 foreign sales representatives, after the Labour Ministry refused to approve their application on the grounds that existing salesmen were employing street-sale tactics that bordered on harassment.

    Maxima Marketing Ltd started its operations in Paphos in 2001 with 45 sales reps. The salesmen would pitch UK couples on the street, selling either long-term holiday contracts or timeshare deals.

    On March 11, 2002, the company applied for work permits for 105 salesmen. The Labour Ministry rejected the application on the grounds that the 45 that were approved the year before had caused problems.

    According to yesterday’s Phileleftheros, the 45 sales reps were approved for employment on condition they would be used to train local workers. Meanwhile, in June last year, the ministry approved 35 more salesmen for employment.

    However, in the last two years, several reports have highlighted the growing problem of foreign timeshare salesmen posted on main streets in tourist areas like Ayia Napa and Paphos, who reportedly harass foreign couples that walk by.

    Labour Ministry officials sent two letters to the appellate company pointing out the aggressive tactics used by their sales reps, reminding them that their work permits were approved on the grounds that they would train local staff to replace foreign personnel. According to the paper, Maxima did not respond to either letter.

    The company appealed against the ministry’s decision, arguing that they had not been heard before their application was rejected. The appeal was lost last month when Supreme Court Judge, Christos Artemides, ruled that their argument did not stand since the company neither replied to the two letters sent by the Ministry nor challenged their content.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [07] Rear seatbelts for twin cabins too

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE HOUSE Communication Committee decided yesterday that twin cabin truck drivers would have to add backseat seatbelts in their vehicles. The bill will be sent to the Plenum for approval next Thursday.

    According to the amendment, the same regulations will apply to twin cabin vehicles, as have recently been applied for passengers in saloon cars. Therefore, all vehicles registered with the Road Transport Department since January 1, 1998, will be forced to add seatbelts to their cars, unless their placement is deemed unsafe, the committee said.

    House Committee president Nicos Pittokopitis said the law that had been drawn up for saloon cars and passed last July 1 had not been drafted for EU harmonisation purposes, but for road safety reasons, which was why it should also be applied to pick up trucks and all passenger vehicles. He added that 99.9 per cent of all twin cabin pickups already fulfilled the prerequisites necessary for placing seatbelts in the back seat.

    Meanwhile, Road Transport Department official Soteris Kolettas said that from the moment the law is passed, any such vehicles imported to Cyprus will have to come with standard backseat seatbelts. The European Union stipulates that seatbelts are compulsory for all N1 category cars, which include saloon and twin cabin vehicles, he added.

    Until now, Cyprus law has classed twin cabins as ‘truck vehicles’, which is why they were so far exempt from enforcing the rule about compulsory seatbelts for all passengers.

    AKEL deputy Thasos Michaelides asked whether arrangements had been made to help large families, with four or more children, buy bigger cars so that they could transport their families safely, Kolettas said arrangements were being made. But Pittokopitis said the only way to ensure large families were being transported safely was if the purchase of new cars was sponsored by the state.

    The law will be brought before the House Plenum on June 12.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [08] Serdar walkout: Omirou reaches out to Turkish Cypriots but stands by remarks

    By Jean Chrisotu

    SOCIALIST KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou yesterday attempted to mend fences with Turkish Cypriot parties after Serdar Denktash walked out of a bicommunal party leaders’ meeting at the Ledra Palace on Monday, but he stood by the comment that so upset Denktash.

    Serdar Denktash, the leader of the Democratic Party, took exception to a comment Omirou had made earlier in the week, which made reference to the illegality of the Turkish Cypriot ‘parliament’.

    At Monday’s meeting, an angry Denktash, vowed that he would no longer attend the regular bicommunal meetings, which the Slovak embassy has been organising for years, and that his party would only be represented at lower level in the future.

    Yesterday, Omirou said in a message to Turkish Cypriot politicians that as long as Cyprus remained occupied, the human rights of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were being violated.

    “We will continue in our efforts for a common vision for Greek and Turkish Cypriots, for the fall of the wall of occupation and the reunification of our homeland,” he said, but added that this could be achieved only through the legality of international law, processes and institutions.

    Commenting on Denktash’s walkout from Monday’s meeting, Omirou accused him of trying to use bicommunal meetings as a means of recognition for the breakaway regime.

    He said the meetings had been going on for many years and that participants had managed to avoid using ‘officialese’ in their dealings with each other.

    However, he said, it was very well known that the House of Representatives was the sole parliamentary body recognised by other parliaments, and the only one from the island to have dealings with the International Parliamentary Union, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. “None of this is a secret and it’s not something that has been said for the first time,” Omirou said, adding that parliamentary elections in the north were not legal.

    He denied that he has used harsh terms such as ‘pseudo MPs’ or ‘pseudoparliament’ but had used the term ‘illegal’, which was a known fact.

    “If it is Serdar Denktash’s intention to use these meetings as a means of recognition then that is his mistake,” Omirou said.

    Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday carried the story of Denktash’s walkout on their front pages, quoting him as saying: “Due to the remarks made by KISOS leader Omirou, I am having to withdraw today from the meetings of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot political parties that have been going on under the auspices of the Slovakian embassy since 1992. The remarks by Mr Omirou have grossly contradicted the spirit of these meetings.”

    Denktash added that it was unfortunate that the remark had been made at a time when the climate in Cyprus had never been better. The Democratic Party would continue to participate in bicommunal meetings, Denktash added, but never again at the same level.

    Other Turkish Cypriot party leaders also reacted to Omirou’s comments. Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party, said the remarks had been against the spirit of the bicommunal meetings. Huseyin Angolemli, leader of the Communal Liberation Party called it a “political slander”, and the speaker of the Trukish Cypriot ‘Assembly’, Vehbi Zeki, said it was “an insult to democracy”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, June 4, 2003

    [09] Farmer killed in road accident

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 62-year-old farmer was killed in a road accident near Polis Chrysochous at 5pm yesterday.

    Police said Kyriakos Elia, from Kinousa village, died instantly when he was thrown from his small tractor after a collision with a pick-up overtaking him on the main Polis Chrysochous to Argaka road. The Italian driver of the double cabin was overtaking Elia when another driver coming in the opposite direction forced him to swerve left, causing the collision with the tractor. Elia was thrown from his vehicle on impact, and his body landed 20 metres away in a field.

    He was rushed to Paphos Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. The Italian was taken to the same hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the accident.

    Police said the man was given a preliminary breath test for alcohol, which came up negative.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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