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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 00-05-26
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Friday, 26 May 2000
 President Clerides opens Cyprus International Trade FairIn his inaugural address at the 25th Cyprus International Fair, President Clerides welcomed representatives of foreign countries participating in the fair and said he considers their presence "as proof of their confidence in the economy of Cyprus and as an expression of their interest in promoting cooperation between their countries and Cyprus".
President Clerides said that "in the course of 2000, the Cyprus economy continued its satisfactory performance, and pointed out that the rate of growth in 2000 is expected to rise to 4.5%, in real terms the same as in 1999.
"This performance compares very favourably with that of many other countries", he said, adding that an important factor contributing to this, was the prevalence of a favourable business climate.
"Unemployment is expected to be about 3.5%, which means that there are conditions of full employment," he said.
President Clerides said that the rate of inflation is showing an upward trend and that this development, is largely due to temporary factors. It is expected to be reversed in the medium term, he added.
"Despite this, the Government is currently considering and is determined to take all necessary measures to check inflation," the President said, and expressed the confidence that Cyprus' social partners will continue to show moderation in the course of collective negotiations.
The President said that despite Cyprus' economic positive course the Government recognises the existence of a fiscal problem and in the medium- term the fiscal problem will be faced through the implementation of a strategic plan for fiscal adjustment. The plan envisages, on the one hand, the restraining of public consumer expenditure and, on the other hand, the promotion of a radical tax reform, he said.
He reaffirmed that at the same time, the government will continue to actively support efforts for the restructuring, modernisation, and technological upgrading of business units. This is necessitated by Cyprus' European Union accession course and by the globalisation and liberalisation of markets.
He stressed however, that for Cyprus to continue to make progress and to increase its significance as an international business centre, "we must reach a just, viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem".
President Clerides appealed to the international community "to exert the greatest possible influence on Ankara so that this time the talks which the international community aspires to be substantive, may be fruitful".
In his speech the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Mr Nicos Rolandis, said that Cyprus must focus on an economic vision leading up to the year 2010.
This vision, he said, relates to the restructuring, rebuilding and modernising of the public and semi-governmental services, the support, strengthening and development of industry, trade, energy, transport, construction and agriculture, as well as the strengthening of tourism, services and high technology.
With the materialisation of these goals by the year 2010, Cyprus will improve its infrastructure and also become a significant European centre of technology, tourism and services in the Easter Mediterranean region. "This must be the target and the target is attainable," he concluded.
 Cyprus Government welcomes withdrawal of Israeli troops from South LebanonThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement yesterday:
"The Cyprus Government welcomes the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon and the restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty in the whole of its territory. It hopes that this development will contribute to the restoration of stability and security along the Israeli-Lebanon border and generally to the efforts for an overall peace in the Middle East. It is underlined that following the latest development, Resolution 425 of the Security Council will be implemented after a lapse of 22 years since its adoption and follows the reestablishment of international legality in East Timor.
The United Nations Resolutions express international legality and must be respected even if they are long overdue. The Cyprus government also expects the implementation of the UN Resolutions on Cyprus and for this reason it will not deviate from its adherence to these".
 Cyprus is the best pupil out of all EU candidate countries for accessionEU Commissioner for Enlargement Mr Gunter Verheugen has reassured that Cyprus accession course will continue unhindered.
Replying to a question by Greek Euro MP Mr Ioannis Marinos, during a meeting of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament on 24th May, Mr Verheugen said that the Republic of Cyprus is the best pupil among all candidate countries for accession to the European Union, and assured that there is no need for concern since the decision at Helsinki, for the accession of Cyprus irrespective of the solution to the Cyprus problem, still stands.
Neither the EU Council of Ministers, nor the European Commission, nor the Governments of the Member States of the EU have changed their position on this matter, he added.
 House approves increase of two percent in VATThe Cyprus House of Representatives approved two bills providing for an increase in the Value Added Tax from 8 per cent to 10 per cent and a package of compensatory measures increasing the tax-deductible amount. The government bills were approved by majority vote yesterday.
The increase in the VAT was considered necessary in view of Cyprus' bid to join the European Union.
The new package of compensatory measures provides for an increase in tax- deductible income from the five thousand Cyprus pounds it stands at today, to six thousand pounds, and adjustment of the other scales. (One Cyprus pound is about 1,6 US dollars).
The House also approved a new bill providing for the abolishment of compulsory taxation in favour of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, which was estimated so far according to electricity consumption in each household. The public Television and Radio Station will now receive its funds from the State Budget.
 Cyprus and Samoa agree to establish diplomatic relationsCyprus and Samoa have agreed to establish diplomatic relations. The Permanent Representatives of Cyprus and Samoa to the United Nations, Ambassadors Sotos Zakheos and Tuiloma Neroni Slade, signed the protocol in New York on 24 May.
Speaking at the official ceremony, both ambassadors praised the signing of the protocol and pointed out that it would enhance relations between the governments of Cyprus and Samoa in various fields.
The two ambassadors also stressed the need for cooperation among the small island states in an inter-dependent world, which is facing many challenges particularly in the fields of environment and security.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/