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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, December 22, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Third round of talks likely
  • [02] Market compromise in the offing
  • [03] Pontian held for spate of kiosk robberies
  • [04] Two-hour strike to protest CoLA changes
  • [05] Minister defends Ergates decision
  • [06] Ministers extend moratorium on foreign labour
  • [07] Paphos police worried at rise in juvenile crime

  • [01] Third round of talks likely

    Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT is expecting a third round of proximity talks to take place, spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Papapetrou said a third round would probably take place after next Aprilís presidential' elections in the north.

    "The most decisive stage will be during the third round," Papapetrou said.

    A second round of proximity talks is scheduled to begin on January 27 in Geneva. It will be a continuation of the proximity talks begun in New York on January 3.

    Papapetrou said no new invitation would be extended by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides as both have already accepted to go to the second round.

    He said the second round would be conducted by Annan's special representative for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, who had a major role in the first round.

    The second round will also be closely monitored by the US, with a team led by President Bill Clinton's special emissary Alfred Moses.

    "The US continues strongly to support the UN-sponsored Cyprus proximity talks process under the Secretary-general's auspices," said US embassy spokesman Walter Douglas yesterday.

    In New York, US permanent representative to the UN and former Cyprus presidential envoy, ambassador Richard Holbrooke, told reporters he was encouraged that the two leaders had agreed to a new round of talks.

    "If I said I was hopeful, I would be denying the history of the last 25 years," Holbrooke said. "But I think it is encouraging that there will be a second round."

    The US also gave its opinion yesterday on the controversy over an addendum to the Secretary-general's report on the renewal of the six-monthly Unficyp mandate.

    The contentious addendum said the governments of Greece, Cyprus and Britain had agreed with the mandate extension. "The government of Turkey has indicated that it concurs with the position of the Turkish Cypriot party, namely that Unficyp can operate on both sides of the island only on the basis of the consent of both parties and that the Turkish Cypriot authorities will accordingly request Unficyp to work with them to develop modalities of Unficyp's operations in northern Cyprus," it added.

    It prompted the Turkish side to claim last week that the breakaway state in the north had been recognised, which in turn angered the government.

    President Glafcos Clerides summoned the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, but subsequent clarifications by the UN have been accepted.

    "The addendum states the positions of Greece, the UK, Cyprus and Turkey in support of Unficyp," said US State Department spokesman James Foley.

    "The UN spokesman clarified on Friday that there had been no change in UN policy nor has there been any change in US policy of recognising only the government of the Republic of Cyprus."

    Foley reiterated that the US supported the role of the Secretary-general and his efforts to promote proximity talks on Cyprus.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [02] Market compromise in the offing

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE UNCERTAINTY surrounding a government bill to tax stock market capital gains yesterday continued to cast its dark shadow over the infant exchange, just as signs began to emerge of a possible compromise that could win the approval of a majority in the House.

    Share prices yesterday ended lower for the fourth session in a row, taking to 66.77 points the losses endured by the all-share index since a four- session skid began last Thursday. Of these, 17.79 points, or 2.42 per cent, were bled yesterday when the index closed at 716.45 on an anaemic volume of £20.11 million.

    The government on Monday decided to postpone plans to pass through the House a market capital gains bill in the face of opposition from its own party, Disy, and the opposition Diko and Edek. Ironically, the communist Akel -- the main opposition bloc -- supports the government's position.

    The bill is also opposed by the powerful Chamber of Commerce and Industry, by brokers and by the association of stock market investors.

    The House will now discuss the bill, together with three others related to the market, on Tuesday, December 28.

    The brainchild of Finance Minister Takis Klerides, a political novice plucked from a major accountancy firm earlier this year, the controversial bill had threatened to develop into a major tussle between Disy and the government at a time when the party founded by President Glafcos Clerides is trailing Akel in opinion polls.

    But Disy boss Nicos Anastassiades, a seasoned and resilient politician with presidential ambitions, appeared to change tack yesterday when signs emerged that the ruling party and the government may be able to meet halfway on a five per cent tax rather than the eight to 10 per cent said to have been proposed by Klerides.

    Speaking after a Presidential Palace meeting with President Clerides and the Finance Minister, Anastassiades said: "A small percentage will be helpful."

    The proposed tax will be applied on all profits made in 1999, while a one per cent levy on transactions that is still awaiting approval in the House will come into effect in 2000.

    The proposed five per cent tax immediately won the approval of the United Democrats, the party of former president and chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou. Reports yesterday suggested that Akel and Edek were expected to give their support to the five per cent tax if it comes up for a vote on Tuesday.

    "This market is too young to be hassled by too many taxes," said Yiannos Demetriou of CLR, one of the island's leading brokerages. "But this market also has the strength to rebound once the situation is clarified."

    The cash-starved government is known to have been eyeing the vast profits made on the stock exchange in 1999 with the intention of getting its hands on some of them, if only to narrow a fiscal deficit that is expected to hit six per cent next year.

    Market players do not universally reject the idea of a tax on market profits, but they are furious at the way the government had gone about it. They single out the timing of the bill and the lack of reliable information on its details.

    "The government must give us a final decision on whether they will introduce taxation or not," said Yiannos Andronikou of Suphire Stockbrokers.

    "Obviously, some investors are just realising their gains, but there are also signs that many investors are getting out while the situation clears."

    Some of the funds fleeing the market, other brokers said, belonged to Cypriots who had kept cash abroad and had brought it back to the island to invest in the market.

    "This year has been an exceptional year, but what about the losses people made in previous years on the market?" asked Andronikou, questioning the fairness of the government's approach. "What this government wants is to stop the market dead in its tracks," he said.

    The tax controversy is the latest of several crises which have beset the Cyprus Stock Exchange this year. These included repeated closures forced by chaos in administrative work, suspensions of brokerages failing to meet deadlines in processing transactions and delays in the issuing of share deeds by listed companies.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [03] Pontian held for spate of kiosk robberies

    By George Psyllides

    A PONTIAN Greek was arrested yesterday in connection with four kiosk robberies and church burglaries.

    Twenty-three-year-old Spyridon Triantafyllides, alias Garig, from Georgia was arrested yesterday after another suspect said he had taken part in kiosk robberies in Nicosia and Larnaca, and church burglaries in the Paphos district. He had already been arrested and released last week.

    A second man from Russia, Maxim Mirnyi, 23, who is already in custody, is expected to be charged in connection with the same offences.

    The two men were named by 28-year-old Igor Guiourjiev from Russia, who is also in police custody.

    Guiourjiev had been initially arrested for illegal residence. He was released last Friday but immediately re-arrested as a suspect for the robberies and burglaries.

    Police now believe they have in their hands the gang responsible for a spate of kiosk robberies and church lootings.

    "We believe it is the gang which operated everywhere on the island," said Paphos CID chief Danil Makariou.

    Makariou added that the suspects had admitted to robbing four kiosks and looting seven churches, as well as to several house burglaries.

    The rest of the gang, along with Mirnyi, were arrested in Kato Paphos last Thursday after police intercepted their car for a search.

    Police arrested passengers George Theodorides, 28, from Georgia, Givi Lobzhanidze, 22, also from Georgia, and 17-year-old Pontian George Popides from Paphos.

    As soon as their car was stopped, one of the suspects was seen throwing an object out of the window, which later proved to be a syringe and a small bottle allegedly containing drugs.

    Police searched the car and found unknown pills and various tools, which they believe were used in burglaries.

    According to police reports, the same car the suspects were using that day had been spotted in the past near churches that had been looted.

    The five were remanded for eight days last Friday, while Triantafyllides, who had also been arrested in connection with the case was released. He was rearrested yesterday.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [04] Two-hour strike to protest CoLA changes

    SEVERAL areas of the semi-government and private sector will be affected by a two-hour warning strike today as the unions flex their muscle to protest changes in the Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA.)

    Peo general-secretary Michalakis Papaefstathiou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the aim of the nationwide noon to 2pm strike was to "increase pressure on the government to change its positions on CoLA."

    He said the areas most affected would be wherever the unions were most strongly represented, "like in big supermarkets."

    The unions are angry at the government's pledge not to include consumer taxes in its future CoLA calculations. VAT will, however, still be taken into account. The unions claim this is just a first step towards the eventual abolition of CoLA.

    Papaefstathiou said teachers' union Oelmek and bank employees union Etik had not yet announced whether they would be taking part in the strike, "although they have said they support the principal."

    Sek and civil service union Pasidy will not be joining in strike action, but the majority of the island's remaining unions are behind the action.

    Employers not only back the government on the exclusion of consumer taxes, but also want it extended to VAT, saying its inclusion in CoLA calculations would cost them millions of pounds.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [05] Minister defends Ergates decision

    By Athena Karsera

    LABOUR Minister Andreas Moushiouttas yesterday defended the Cabinet's decision to give Ergates foundry a year to clean up its emissions.

    Replying to residents angered by the decision, Moushiouttas said the decision could not have gone any other way.

    An announcement from the residents on Monday said that they were concerned that Moushiouttas' pledges to find a fair solution had been made "only to impress."

    Moushiouttas yesterday said, "I will just tell you the facts and you can come to your own conclusions. After a meeting with my colleague the Health Minister (Frixos Savvides), there was a meeting at my Ministry, at which (Dr. Michalis) Voniatis was present along with the Health Minister, the owner of the foundry and his lawyers."

    Voniatis has published a damning report highlighting excessive cancer levels in the village, which he says are caused by the foundry's emissions.

    Moushiouttas said the parties had discussed what the Cabinet eventually adopted as its decision.

    "That is to say, instead of waiting until January 1, 2001 to limit the emissions from 300 milligrams of particulate per cubic metre of smoke (mg) to 50mg, this would start immediately so that in a few months the goal would be reached."

    Moushiouttas continued that even though Voniatis had not been bound by what he said, he had agreed with this stance and said he believed that the residents would also accept this.

    According to Voniatis' tests, the Marios and Andreas foundry has been poisoning the residents with cancer-inducing lead, cadmium and possibly dioxin.

    Voniatis has said that compliance with the 50mg EU standard should take place within the next six months.

    The Labour Ministry, which is responsible for issues of industrial pollution, has already filed a suit against the foundry for allegedly exceeding the 300mg Cyprus emission standards.

    It has also sued the Nemitsas foundry in Zakaki on the same grounds.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [06] Ministers extend moratorium on foreign labour

    A MINISTERIAL Committee yesterday decided to extend a moratorium freezing the issue of work permits to foreigners for another three months.

    It was the second time the Committee, made up of the Interior, Justice and Labour ministers, extended the August moratorium.

    Speaking after the closed meeting, the Committee's president, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, said that the decision had been taken after a recommendation from Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas.

    "At today's Ministerial Committee meeting on issues connected to foreigners, several concerns were discussed, one of the main of which was the matter of the extension or not of the moratorium on the employment of foreign workers."

    The moratorium applies to sectors where there is local unemployment, mainly tourism and construction.

    Christodoulou said the decision had been taken after Moushiouttas had briefed him and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis on the unemployment situation in Cyprus and business needs.

    Christodoulou said the Committee would be meeting again after the three- month period was over to decide on further developments.

    In September, Moushiouttas admitted that illegal foreign workers contributed to unemployment on the island, while Christodoulou said that the exact number of illegal foreign workers could not be calculated.

    He said that this was largely because the issue had remained unchecked over the last 13 years.

    Wednesday, December 22, 1999

    [07] Paphos police worried at rise in juvenile crime

    By Phanis Droushiotis

    PAPHOS police have expressed concern at the increasing levels of juvenile crime in the area.

    Paphos police chief Spyros Koniotis said yesterday the fact that under aged youths were getting involved in crime, sometimes serious, had led the police authorities to request help from wherever it could come.

    Officer Daniel Makariou told the Cyprus Mail that the figures were rising dangerously. "We have more than 500 cases of under aged suspects being arrested in 1999, and the Constitution does not allow us to imprison them or even detain them. This must be stopped as soon as possible," he said. He called on parents to be more careful and he requested help from the Ministry of Education as well.

    Police worries emerged during a discussion on Monday with reporters, with police saying the recent robbery of an Inia Coop Bank by a 16-year-old was "a result of TV violence."

    Parents and television were also blamed for a car accident that happened in the early hours yesterday.

    Panayiotis Cleanthis and Georgia Ioannou, both aged 16, suffered serious injuries when the car illegally driven by Cleanthis overturned on the Polis to Paphos road due to high speed. The children's' parents yesterday declared they had not known their offspring were on the road.

    A Traffic Department source told the Cyprus Mail that the Ministry of Education had failed to include road safety lessons in primary and secondary schools - "a costly delay," he added.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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