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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-26

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

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


Thursday, June 26, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Price rise warning ahead of clampdown on late payments
  • [02] Pressure mounts on Denktash
  • [03] Cabinet backs new measures for Turkish Cypriots
  • [04] Cyprus in harmonisation race before the autumn
  • [05] Scant interest for marina development
  • [06] Refinery management withheld information, investigation finds
  • [07] Staff walk out at Paphos hotel
  • [08] Farmer gunned down in apparent feud
  • [09] Two held over taxi driver’s murder

  • [01] Price rise warning ahead of clampdown on late payments By Stefanos Evripidou

    PARLIAMENT is set to pass a bill imposing penalties for late payment to suppliers today. Retailers argue that the bill will force them to raise prices to meet their debts to suppliers, while smaller businesses will close down.

    The bill stipulates that any goods supplied that remain unpaid for more than 30 days will be subject to an interest payment set at seven per cent above the base rate of the European Central Bank, unless there is a written agreement between the two parties. Using current rates, this amounts to about 10.5 per cent interest on delayed payments.

    “It’s logical that prices will rise,” said Panicos Papadakis, President of the Cyprus Retailers Association. “We all know that up until now retailers were given a much longer grace period to pay suppliers. Now, with only 30 days to pay and such a high interest, it is a mathematical certainty that prices will rise,” he added.

    Suppliers have long voiced their concern over late payment, highlighting delays of up to one year in certain cases, threatening bankruptcy. Suppliers have long complained about supermarket chains, but small businesses are also known to partake in the practice.

    “We have asked parliament to go ahead and pass the bill, but delay its implementation until EU accession on May 1, 2004. This will give retailers time to prepare, sort out their books and find working capital. Otherwise, many small businesses will have to close,” said Papadakis.

    DISY deputy and head of the House Commerce Committee, Lefteris Christoforou, described the measure as an “EU harmonisation bill”, required for accession to the EU. “We cannot change anything in the bill, it is the same in all EU member states,” he said yesterday. “However, we have agreed to pass the bill in parliament tomorrow (today) but delay its implementation until January 1, 2004, to give retailers some time to prepare.”

    Christoforou played down claims that prices would rise even further. “They are using this as a threat. I believe that free market competition will sort out any price rises, especially in supermarkets. But this delay will give them time to prepare their books,” he said.

    Regarding the interest level, Christoforou said it was set at a reasonable level. “It is seven per cent on the base rate of the European Central Bank, which is about 3.5 per cent, and not based on our Central Bank which is nearer 4.5 per cent,” he pointed out. “This is not too much. It will cover the costs of the supplier. Up to now, big supermarkets were taking advantage of suppliers by holding their money, which could have been sitting in the bank, for long periods of time,” he concluded.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [02] Pressure mounts on Denktash

    By Jean Christou

    PRESSURE is mounting on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, as the international community, opposition parties in the north and even Ankara appear to have ganged up to push for a solution before May next year.

    Reports have begun to surface in the north hinting that Denktash will be sidelined “like Arafat” and that elections slated for December could be brought forward to October to give time to a new Turkish Cypriot negotiator to thrash out a solution based on the Annan plan by March.

    General elections in Greece in April have added urgency to the race to find a solution, as the Athens government is expected to wind down by the end of February.

    Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat told Politis newspaper that he had already sent a letter to ‘parliament’ demanding a debate for early elections in the north, bringing them forward from December to October. Reports suggest this move is supported by Ankara.

    Yesterday, following a meeting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot party leaders at the Ledra Palace United Cyprus Party leader Izzet Izcan said Denktash might use the elections as a ploy “to show that he is willing to sit at the table” and then abandon the process at a later date.

    Denktash has rejected the Annan plan point blank, refusing last March to put it to a referendum in the north.

    “We want someone who will accept the solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan plan and who will accept the referendum of the Turkish Cypriot community,” Izcan said.

    “Our job is to change the negotiator. Our job is to get the support of the Turkish Cypriot community, which we feel that we have, and we do not see these elections as elections but as a referendum,” he added.

    Izcan’s comments echoed those made by US State Department Co-ordinator Thomas Weston to a Turkish television channel at the weekend. The US is spearheading the latest campaign for a settlement before May 2004, when Cyprus joins the EU. In one of the most frank interviews yet, Weston expressed US support for the Turkish Cypriot opposition and was clear that if Denktash did not co-operate in reaching a settlement, the Annan plan would still go to referendum.

    He said that if the opposition was elected he had no doubt a settlement would be reached in time.

    “We believe there is a great deal of support for EU membership for Turkish Cypriots entering the EU at the same time as Greek Cypriots - therefore settlement, therefore the Annan plan and therefore a referendum,” Weston said.

    “We believe that will be expressed during the elections in December. In many ways without characterising it too starkly, because I think it is very hard to predict these things all in advance, in many ways the elections in December are also a referendum on the policies of Mr Denktash.”

    Weston added the US would still try to convince Denktash of the benefits of a solution, but added he was not optimistic in this regard.

    “If agreement can not be reached then the only legitimate, democratic thing to do is to put it to the people of Cyprus… and let the people of Cyprus determine their future rather than having someone else determine it for them,” he added. A referendum would have to be held by April, he said.

    Weston also said that by resisting, Denktash was not only taking on the responsibility for the future of the Turkish Cypriots but also for Turkey, whose EU aspirations would be affected by failure to reach a solution in Cyprus.

    Weston said he had met a much harder stance from Denktash than he had in Ankara. Turkey’s attitude was much closer to that of the Turkish Cypriots, he said, adding that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul had not expressed the notion that a solution could not be found before next May. “This, of course, coincides with our analysis,” Weston said. “We (the US and Ankara) believe that not only the Annan plan should be on the table, we believe that it is on the table.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [03] Cabinet backs new measures for Turkish Cypriots

    By George Psyllides

    THE Cabinet yesterday approved the measures announced by President Tassos Papadopoulos on Tuesday, designed to facilitate the movement of Turkish Cypriots and ease internal trade between the two communities.

    Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the regulations would be forwarded to the House for approval today.

    The main measure is to allow Turkish Cypriot trucks carrying goods to cross from the occupied north.

    Until now, only private cars have been allowed to cross since restrictions on the freedom of movement were eased in late April.

    The President also announced that the House would look into extending coverage for the car insurance Turkish Cypriots paid when crossing to the south.

    Turkish Cypriots currently pay £10 for one day, a considerable burden considering that per capita income in the occupied areas is less than a third of that in the south.

    On top of that the government is looking to scrap a £15 fine charged for delays in registering children. The fine applied to all Cypriot citizens, but effectively penalised Turkish Cypriots since until the end of April, they could not cross the divide to get their children registered and obtain birth certificates.

    “In an immediate response to yesterday’s announcement by the President after meeting with Turkish Cypriot politicians, a proposal has been submitted to the Cabinet, which will be urgently passed on to the Hose for approval tomorrow, if possible,” Chrysostomides said.

    The regulations provide for the issue of special permits for lorries carrying products for internal trade, he added.

    The spokesman said that checks on the lorries would be conducted in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Transport Department.

    Chrysostomides said the President was always ready to discuss issues concerning relations between the two communities with Turkish Cypriot politicians, adding, however, that no other Turkish Cypriot requests to see Papadopoulos were pending.

    “No requests are pending for the time being, but the President is always ready to meet and discuss issues, which concern the two communities with Turkish Cypriot politicians,” Chrysostomides said.

    Asked whether Papadopoulos was planning to appoint Turkish Cypriots to the boards of semi-governmental organisations, Chrysostomides said the President based his decisions solely on skills and scientific training.

    “I do not know whether the President is planning to appoint any Turkish Cypriot compatriots as members on the boards of semi-governmental organisations,” he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [04] Cyprus in harmonisation race before the autumn

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    CYPRUS is now on the last and hardest phase of harmonisation with the European Union and will have to mobilise all its forces to fulfil its obligations, the Co-ordinator for Cyprus’ Harmonisation with the EU, Takis Hadjidemetriou, warned yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with a 15-member European Commission delegation, here to monitor implementation of the acquis communautaire, Hadjidemetriou likened the path to EU accession to a race: “Cyprus is in a 100-metre race regarding implementation of the acquis and we will have to mobilise all our forces to respond to our remaining obligations.”

    The head of the EU negotiating team for Cyprus’ accession, Leopold Maurer, said the delegation would help Cyprus complete everything by autumn when the final monitoring report would be issued. “But this needs effort by parliament because many laws need to be adopted soon to comply with the deadlines set by the Commission,” he warned.

    “The last 100 metres to the top of Everest are the hardest,” Hadjidemetriou said, adding that with the co-operation of the House and the government, the country would be able to respond. “We are close to the top and can respond to our obligations.”

    The three main issues still on the table are energy, telecommunications and environment.

    “The issue of energy is almost complete and the bill is before the House for the liberalisation of electricity supply”, said Hadjidemetriou. Regarding telecommunications, he acknowledged there were problems, but believed Cyprus could meet the deadline if a second mobile licence was granted by the end of October.

    Hadjidemetriou noted that a number of new bills would have to be tabled in the House by the end of July in order to examine them in time. “We will have to complete everything we have before the summer recess and ask the government to speed up the tabling of bills so that by the end of July or early August we can have a session to pass the laws,” he concluded.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [05] Scant interest for marina development

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT only received three tenders for the construction and operation of five new marinas, it was revealed yesterday.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas could not be reached for comment yesterday, but sources close to the marinas issue told the Cyprus Mail that the government could not have expected to find investors willing to go along with its terms.

    “The terms were not right from the beginning,” the source said. “The government shouldn’t expect an investor to invest such an amount of money or try to make a forecast for the next 30-45 years.”

    According to reports yesterday, tenders were only received for marinas at Limassol and Ayia Napa and the expansion of Larnaca. No interest was shown for the creation of marinas at Paphos and Protaras-Paralimni.

    The government had invited international tenders for the creation of the five long-awaited new marinas under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) method at the five areas. The deadline was last Friday.

    At Paphos, the Potima area in Kissonerga was earmarked for the marina with a capacity of 1,000 vessels. The Limassol marina is to be built to the west of the old port and have a capacity of 1,000 vessels while the St Raphael Marina in Limassol will continue to operate with a capacity of 250 vessels. In Larnaca, the existing Marina is to be extended so that its current capacity of 450 vessels will expand to 1,000 vessels.

    The Ayia Napa Marina was intended to be at Loumata area with a capacity of 600 vessels. Paralimni marina was to be built near the fishing shelter with a capacity of 250 vessels. Current marina space totals around 700 berths, 450 at Larnaca and 250 at the St Raphael marina in Limassol.

    Under the terms and conditions, successful bidders would undertake the development, operation and management of the marinas for up to 48 years, after which they would be returned to the state along with all installations. In addition to basic port facilities, the marinas are to include commercial and entertainment buildings.

    The source said he had recently spoken to one of the bidders, who was concerned about the length of the contract. He had also spoken to the Minister three weeks ago, he said, and Lillikas admitted there had been little interest.

    He said the government was going to accept the tenders while also negotiating with other companies, which had expressed an interest but not submitted a bid. “A lot of companies are concerned about the uncertainty of the political situation and how things might change if there is a solution, ” the source said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [06] Refinery management withheld information, investigation finds

    By George Psyllides

    TRADE and Industry Minister George Lillikas yesterday confirmed that an investigation into the decision to upgrade the Larnaca refinery (CPR) had found that the management had withheld information from the board.

    The inquiry, however, decided that the information had not been withheld with intent to deceive, the minister added.

    Speaking before the House Watchdog Committee, Lillikas confirmed reports that President Tassos Papadopoulos and his ministry had received a letter from a member of the CPR board, who charged that vital information had been withheld when the board was looking into upgrading the refinery.

    The government has already decided to scrap the previous administration’s plans to upgrade the refinery, converting it instead into a fuel import terminal.

    The move, according to the government, will save taxpayers around $86 million.

    Lillikas said the President had asked him to look into the charges and he in turn wrote to the CPR board asking them to investigate the procedures, leading to the decision to assign the upgrading to Iranian company Sazeh.

    The minister added that the board had ruled that, “the general management had withheld information from the board but at the same time judged that there was no aim to deceive”.

    Lillikas did not say whether the government was planning to take any measures against management.

    Regarding reports in the Iranian press claiming there were political interests behind the attempts to disqualify Sazeh, Lillikas said these were the work of people in Cyprus and Iran whose financial interests had been hurt by the government’s decision not to upgrade the refinery.

    Lillikas said the only reason behind the government’s decision was to find the least costly solution for the taxpayer.

    The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Soteris Soteriou, told the committee that the terminal could be up and running in 11 months, adding procedures to construct an energy centre on the coast of Vasiliko were well under way.

    The government hopes the centre will be ready in seven to eight years though certain matters need to be settled first, including dismantling the installations of the chemical industries, on whose site the centre will be built.

    The minister said the job could only be assigned to experts, due to the materials involved, though there was a second option under consideration.

    The government is considering a proposal from the Electricity Authority to built the centre on its land in the same area.

    “We are looking into the proposal and if it is economical then it will be selected,” Lillikas said.

    He added: “If that is the choice then procedures would be faster though it would take two to three months to complete the studies.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [07] Staff walk out at Paphos hotel

    By Sofia Kannas

    MORE than 150 employees at the St. George Hotel in Paphos staged a walkout yesterday, in protest against an alleged violation of the worker-employer collective agreement by the hotel’s management.

    The strike, which involved 180 hotel employees, took place between 5.30am and 12 noon yesterday and was supported by employees’ unions SEK and PEO.

    The General Secretary of the Hotel Employees’ Federation (SEK), Nicos Epistithiou, told the Cyprus Mail the standoff was sparked when a hotel manager reportedly forced employees to sign a “personal contract”, breaching the collective agreement signed in 1998.

    “We support the employees,” he said. “The union representatives had a meeting with the council of mangers. The council agreed to take the responsibility to implement the agreement 100 per cent. But if we are not able to solve the problem through direct negotiations then we will ask for the mediation of the Labour Ministry,” he added.

    He also warned that hoteliers and managers must stand by their obligations.

    “They have the obligation to implement the collective agreement.”

    Union representatives are expected to meet with Labour Minister Makis Keravnos today to discuss the general dispute over the renewal of the 1998 worker-employer collective agreement, which the Cyprus Hotel Association (PASYXE) has been refusing to sign since January. “Maybe (today) we will find a solution,” Epistithiou said.

    But Director General of PASYXE Zacharias Ioannides condemned the strike by hotel staff, saying it contravened the code of industrial relations. “We cannot but reject this in its totality, as not being a justification for taking such a drastic measure on the part of the unions. Whenever there is a dispute on a specific issue there are procedures to be followed according to the industrial code, and it’s only after a declaration from the ministry itself that the unions could be allowed to take any strike. And such a complaint was not filed.”

    He added that PASYXE had asked Keravnos to intervene and “put the situation in order”.

    “We are pleased to announce this has been done and the hotel is operating normally,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [08] Farmer gunned down in apparent feud

    By Alex Mita

    LIMASSOL police were yesterday investigating the murder of a 53-year-old man, Kypros Andreou Paphitis, who was gunned down at point blank range as he was leaving his farm in Polemidhia.

    According to police, the assailants fired 12 rounds at Paphitis, six of which wounded him on various parts of his body. Paphitis managed to get out of his car and crawl for a few metres before dying.

    Police said the murder could be a part of an ongoing vendetta among farmers in the area, which has seen a spate of arson attacks and other malicious acts between farmers.

    Two years ago, animals were stolen from Paphitis’ farm and his dog was tortured to death; in one incident, shots were fired at his farm.

    The victim’s son, Costas Paphitis, blamed police for not protecting his father, saying he had often expressed fears for his life.

    “The police should know because he often told them he was afraid someone would kill him,” he said.

    “The man was fired at in the past, here is the result of the protection he received from them.”

    Yesterday afternoon, police arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with the case. The suspect had reportedly argued with the victim recently.

    Police said the suspect denied having anything to do with the murder. He is expected to appear before Limassol court today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    [09] Two held over taxi driver’s murder

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO MEN from Limassol are being held in police custody in Paphos in connection with the murder of a 65-year-old taxi driver last week.

    The victim, Michalis Zacharia, bled to death as a result of a stab wound to the throat.

    He was found dead on a construction site in Marathounda in the Paphos district. Paphos CID called people in for questioning throughout last week but no arrests were made until yesterday.

    The autopsy conducted by state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous concluded the victim suffered 20 injuries to the back and throat, inflicted by a sharp object and a stone.

    Police suspect the motive behind the crime might have been robbery given that the victim was known to carry a large amount of cash on him.

    His car was found abandoned and slightly dented on Ypsilantis Street in Paphos. Zacharia was found dead by a construction worker in a building site on the old Episkopi to Marathounda road. Zacharia had been called to pick up a customer from Episkopi but never returned.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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