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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-29

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

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


Thursday, August 29, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Replacements appointed to stand in for suspended doctors
  • [02] Petrol prices set to fall as government prepares to scrap cross- subsidisation
  • [03] Prices slashed in bid to lift poor retail sales
  • [04] Rolandis blasts hoteliers' 'misinformation' campaign
  • [05] Foundry insists it's as clean as can be
  • [06] We can't fix prices, Rolandis tells AKEL
  • [07] Bank of Cyprus profits down in first six months
  • [08] Britons count cost of '30,000 night out'

  • [01] Replacements appointed to stand in for suspended doctors

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides told state radio yesterday that replacements had been found for the two doctors at Limassol General Hospital who were suspended after accusing each other of medical negligence causing loss of life on ANT 1 television over the weekend.

    He said an effort would be made to improve and upgrade the services offered at the cardiological unit in the hospital and confirmed that Head of Medical Services, Constantinos Mallis, had been appointed investigative officer for the administrative investigations into the two doctors.

    He expressed his sadness over the affair and maintained that the ministry had no other option than to request the suspension of the two doctors. "It was a difficult decision for the Public Service Committee (PSC) to make but after hearing the position of the Attorney-general and having had an extended discussion, they finally decided it was the right one," he said.

    Regarding reports that Savvides had browbeaten the committee into suspending the doctors, he said, "There was never an issue of opposing views, just the need to gather all the necessary evidence to make the decision just and fair and stand up to any objection.

    "It was with a heavy heart that we did this but when the whole country witnessed this ridicule on air we didn't have a choice," he continued. Savvides said the two doctors would be made an example to show others that they must respect the laws, procedures and institutions of the country and take responsibility for their actions when they chose to make public outcries and squabble in public.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Petrol prices set to fall as government prepares to scrap cross- subsidisation

    COMSUMERS can expect a substantial fall in petrol prices, though diesel is set to go up slightly while the price of liquid gas could increase by 60 to 70 per cent, according to a bill to be discussed by the Cabinet next week.

    Trade and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis said the bill had been on the agenda for yesterday's Cabinet meeting, but in the end it was not discussed because there was not enough time.

    "The President has given instructions to put the issue first on the list in next week's meeting," Rolandis said.

    The bill provides substantial cuts in petrol prices, a slight increase in the cost of diesel and a substantial rise in the price of liquid gas, Rolandis said.

    The price of tarmac is also set to increase substantially, while a 2 million subsidy given to the Electricity Authority for buying crude oil is to be scrapped.

    Cyprus Airways is also set to lose a 600,000 grant, according to the bill.

    Rolandis said the bill effectively transferred funds from one fuel category to another, and put an end to a decades-old situation of cross-subsidy across the market, which is deemed anti-competitive by the EU.

    "The cross-subsidy is worth around 26 million, which petrol had to foot all these years to the benefit of other areas.

    "This cannot continue," he said.

    Rolandis added that before liberalisation went ahead, discrepancies had to be corrected, and every product should be charged its own cost.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Prices slashed in bid to lift poor retail sales

    By Sofia Kannas

    WITH just a few days of the summer sale period to go, retailers across the island are slashing prices this week in a last ditch effort to boost flagging sales.

    Shopkeepers are offering discounts of up to 80 per cent on sale items in an effort to stir consumer interest.

    Melios Gergiou, General Secretary of Cyprus' Small Shopkeepers' Association (POVEK), yesterday expressed the hope that additional reductions would improve matters.

    "This is the last week of the sales, and prices are dropping significantly. We hope the market will pick up as a result."

    Asked to explain why profits from this summer's sales were down, Georgiou said, "it's certainly not because prices are too high. On the contrary, prices are very reasonable this year."

    "One problem for small businesses is that there are an increasing number of shops to compete against, and there is a consequent loss in profits."

    "Another problem is that many larger stores start selling items on sale early in May and June, so that by the time the official August sales begin, people have lost interest," he added.

    POVEK President Andreas Dalitis voiced similar concerns.

    "The main difficulty for us is that hypermarkets and larger stores advertise items at reduced prices throughout the year, violating the official sale periods.

    "The Government has a difficult task trying to enforce regulations and conduct regular price inspections due to the ever increasing number of shops. There are too many businesses for government staff to regulate effectively," he said.

    "Consumer caution is another problem. Many people are simply not willing to spend their money, even in sales. This is due to the knock-on effect of the stock market crash.

    "Even people who are not under financial strain sometimes prefer to spend their money on a holiday abroad. Around 400,000 Cypriots leave Cyprus in the summer to go on holiday. This means that many Cypriots are absent at the very time the sales are on.

    "The absence of locals, not to mention the drop in visiting tourists this year, is bound to have negative repercussions. It makes for bad business," he added.

    Even the hot summer climate is off-putting to shoppers according to Dalitis.

    "The high temperatures in summer are hardly conducive to browsing shops for sale items," he said.

    The end of the sales on Saturday will be followed by a return to normal work hours when the traditional midday break comes to an end on Monday.

    However, the termination of the lunchtime siesta will not be greeted with enthusiasm by POVEK members.

    "We were hoping the midday break would remain until at least the middle of September," Georgiou said.

    "It's all right for the big air-conditioned stores, but it's a long hot day for small shopkeepers who can't afford air-conditioning."

    A source at the Department of Labour confirmed the new opening hours yesterday. As of September 2, shops will be open until 8.30 pm daily, with the exception of Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when stores will close at 2pm, 9.30 pm, and 5pm respectively.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Rolandis blasts hoteliers' 'misinformation' campaign

    By Soteris Charalambous

    TOURISM Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday postponed presentation of a proposal to the Cabinet to abolish the three per cent Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) tax, claiming the ministry was not prepared to do so in an "atmosphere of misinformation" promoted by the hoteliers' association.

    The Minister's response appeared to be a reaction to Tuesday's announcement by the Cyprus Hoteliers' Association (PASYXE) claiming an estimated 120 million drop in tourism revenue for the first nine months of the year.

    Using official government statistics, PASYXE claimed that foreign currency from tourism for the first six months of 2002 had dropped by 45 million. It predicted a further 75 million loss of revenue for the period July to September based on the drop of 50,000 tourists who visited the island in July (compared to July 2001) and predicting a similar outcome for the subsequent two months. PASYXE calculated the projected drop of 75 million by factoring the expected decrease in the number of visitors (150,000) by the amount they would have spent, which they say averages at 500 per person.

    In its announcement, PASYXE also offered a bleak outlook for remaining months of the year, adding that closure of one of major hotel had been a consequence of the dire financial situation the industry found itself in.

    Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Rolandis said he had briefed fellow ministers and that they had accepted that while PASYXE were "feeding misinformation through forecasts or any other means" the question of abolishing the CTO tax would not be discussed. He added that the assessment of figures by his ministry and the CTO indicated that losses were far less than suggested by the hoteliers' association.

    "In the last four years, we have enjoyed a 51 per cent increase in income (from tourism), something that no other country has. If 51 per cent drops to 46 per cent would that be the end of the world?" asked Rolandis. He added, "If 430 million (in tourism income) drops to 360 million or 370 million, is that the end of the world?"

    In reference to tourist spending Rolandis also noted, "This year we have information that part of their expenditure has been directed to other areas of the economy and to a lesser degree to the hotels. Despite other views, we forwarded the issue (of abolition of the CTO tax) to the Cabinet, but I am not prepared to continue to discuss it in a spirit of misinformation."

    "Our proposal is to provide 17 million of taxpayers' money to the 400 hoteliers in an effort to aid the industry, although not in conditions of misinformation."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Foundry insists it's as clean as can be

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE MANAGING director of Nemitsas Ltd yesterday slammed Chiflikoudia residents' claims that the company's foundry in Limassol was guilty of emitting "lethal chemicals" that their children were being forced to inhale.

    But the area's primary school parents' association is adamant the fumes are a problem and intends to keep the school closed if the issue is not resolved by the Cabinet before the start of the school year.

    In fact, the Limassol Parents' Association Federation has decided it will close all primary schools if the problem is not resolved once and for all.

    Responding, Kikis Petevis of Nemitsas said: "This belief is completely incorrect," adding that medical tests had established there were no negative health effects from the foundry's operation.

    "In fact, several studies have been conducted, costing over 150,000, that proved beyond any doubt that the foundry does not emit anything harmful to one's health," he said.

    Petevis is confident the foundry is not a health risk and that the numerous tests over the past six months had been carried out thoroughly and at great expense.

    "We already know the results of the Labour Ministry technical committee's study and are not worried about what the Cabinet will decide, because they were very clear and satisfactory," he said.

    "Everyone talks about the emissions being within EU limits, but such a thing does not exist. The European Union simply forces a state's government to implement its own limits." And, he said, the foundry was well within the limits imposed by the Cyprus government. "In fact, not only are we within those limits, we are much lower than those limits thanks to very expensive equipment we purchased to ensure just that." As for the smell, this was no longer a problem, he claimed, because the company spent nearly 400,000 to take care of it.

    But parent and resident Bernadette Charalambous said it was unacceptable that the foundry continued to operate in a residential area beside a local primary school, and believed the EU would agree.

    To this, Petevis replied: "This is an industrial area and always has been. Besides, industrial or residential, the emissions have to be the same. It's not as if you can 'kill' someone by emitting allegedly lethal chemicals in an industrial area and not in a residential area."

    The managing director also questioned why residents would have built their homes around the foundry in the first place. "They could have built their homes in the Amathus area that is clearly residential," he said.

    If, however, the Cabinet did decide to go ahead and close the foundry down, the company's reaction was simple, Petevis said.

    "Legal action will not be necessary, they will simply have to pay us. It's much simpler and cheaper for us."

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday the Cabinet had not yet made a decision on the matter. "Labour Ministry officers are currently studying the report's findings and they will come to us with a proposal," he said.

    If the foundry is not shut down, the parents association of the primary school will not be sending children back to school next month. Charalambous said it would then be up to the Education Ministry to relocate the pupils to a healthier environment with clean air.

    "Last year, we were told something would be done about it and nothing was. On Thursday we are meeting with the Education Minister to see what can be done," she said.

    Parents' Association spokesman Kyriacos Valanides said he would not be sending his children to school if the technical committee's findings showed the foundry was not within acceptable levels, but would accept if Nemitsas operated in the afternoons when their children were not at school.

    But the company's MD slammed this as "absurd".

    "This is not logical at all," he said. "The same children's homes are much closer to the foundry than the school is," he pointed out.

    He added Labour Ministry experts carrying out tests always come to the foundry unannounced, rubbishing residents' claims that employees could bring down emissions on inspection days. "Besides, we are talking about machinery, so it's not as if we can just lower emission outputs whenever we feel like it. And," he added, "We even had an air measurer outside the school for a year to take readings, which came back clear".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] We can't fix prices, Rolandis tells AKEL

    TRADE and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday insisted that no government could set consumer prices and that all European countries left it to market forces to regulate such issues.

    Rolandis was responding to criticism from opposition AKEL, which in a written statement accused the government of doing nothing to stop people getting ripped off.

    "The thirst for easy profit leads some unscrupulous people to raise prices beyond every logic.

    "Cypriots as well as tourists are victims of profiteering," the statement said.

    AKEL urged the government to abandon its inaction and find ways of stamping out profiteering before consumers were sucked dry and before more serious problems were created in the sensitive tourist field, which was already going through a hard time.

    "The government is watching the situation with apathy and through Trade Minister Nicos Rolandis it declares its inability to intervene.

    "Citing the market economy and EU rules does not acquit the government from its responsibilities," AKEL said.

    The statement added that there were ways of fighting profiteering within the frameworks of a free market, as long as there was determination and political will.

    But defending the government, Rolandis said no European country had taken any such measures and wondered how lists with suggested retail prices could be drafted when there were thousands of shops and importers, and millions of products.

    He added it was consumers' choice to buy or not to something they could find cheaper elsewhere.

    Rolandis said that if lists with suggested retail prices were given to tourists it would give them the impression that they came to a country where they would get ripped off.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Bank of Cyprus profits down in first six months

    BANK of Cyprus (BoC) yesterday released figures for the first six months of the year showing a 67.5 per cent decline in profits from the same period last year to 10.5million.

    The bank explained the drop, "as a result of the large increase in the provision for bad and doubtful debts" - a possible reflection of the repercussions resulting from the crash of the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) and the subsequent financial difficulties encountered by borrowers who took out hefty loans to speculate on the CSE.

    The BoC described the results as "satisfactory" adding that, "the decline in profits was anticipated given that most of the first half of 2002 carries the full impact of the reduction in interest rates as well as the adverse effects on the global and Cyprus economies."

    The bank balanced the negativity reflected in the overall performance by highlighting the group's improved performance in other areas, including the success of the expansion into Greece.

    Despite the significant percentage drop in profits, the BoC's performance in comparison to Popular Bank appeared even, with a bottom line profit figure less than 2 million lower than Laiki's. However, Popular Bank also posted profit figures to shareholders of 6.2 million while the BoC, "Decided not to pay an interim dividend for the year 2002."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Britons count cost of '30,000 night out'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    A BRITISH couple returned from an evening out in Kato Paphos on Tuesday to discover that their Kamares holiday home in Tala near Paphos had been broken into and that thieves had made off with jewellery and other goods valued at 30,000.

    The couple, who spend every summer in Cyprus, had left their mobile phone in the house before going out for dinner and tried to locate it by calling the number on their return. During the search they discovered that their home had been broken into and that valuables had been stolen.

    The Briton said: "We went in to the guest bedroom and discovered a damaged window blind. then we started to look. The first thing we found was that my wife's mobile phone was missing, but more importantly her jewellery case was missing with all the jewellery she takes with her everywhere."

    The couple immediately reported the burglary to the police and provided them with a detailed list of what had been stolen. They also confirmed that their valuables were covered by their insurance policy. The police are continuing their investigations.

    In a separate incident police confirmed that a German woman had over 16, 000 worth of jewellery and valuables stolen from her hotel room last weekend.

    Ingeborg Pohlmann, holidaying at the Ledra Beach Hotel in Kato Paphos discovered that a small sum of foreign currency had been stolen from her room sometime between 6pm and 8am last Friday.

    According to police reports Pohlmann discovered only yesterday, following further examination of her belongings, that over 16,000 worth in jewellery and watches had also been stolen from her hotel room. Unfortunately, she did not take out insurance cover.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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