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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-12-22

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Market takes center stage

THE STOCK Exchange took centre stage yesterday, as the government tried to persuade political parties of the need to impose some form of taxation on profits from the buying and selling of shares.

Simerini reported a flurry of behind-the-scenes consultations at the House over the government bill for the taxation of stock market profits. In the end, no deal was struck and all parties agreed that the House would convene on Tuesday to discuss all bills and amendments relating to the matter. The government's objective was to collect as much money as possible in taxation for 1999, the papers said. However, the uncertainty over whether profits would be taxed caused a fall in prices to the tune of 3.3 per cent, which infuriated investors. Minister of Finance Takis Klerides promised he would submit a bill on the matter at today's Council of Ministers meeting.

Alithia said that the House was forced to call an extraordinary session for Tuesday because it did not want to be put on a collision course with the government. It was very likely that President Clerides would have sent back as unconstitutional any bill prepared by deputies that stipulated zero tax for stock market profits. The paper said that the government's action, particularly the finance minister's, left Disy exposed as three of the party's deputies had submitted their own bill on stock market profits. In order to limit the damage caused by the contrasting positions of the government and its main backer, Disy, the party had called a meeting, which would be attended by the finance minister.

Haravghi played up the disagreement between the government and Disy, saying that it had also divided the party's deputies. During a meeting of the Disy parliamentary group, eight of the 16 deputies supported the party's initial position for zero taxation, while the remainder backed the government's decision. The former were described by the paper as the party's internal opposition. The Disy group abstained from voting for a postponement of the House debate on the issue. The other parties, Edek, Diko and Akel, undertook to study the minister's proposal before taking a stand. One Disy deputy, Christos Pourgourides, accused party colleagues of being opposed to taxation because they had made significant profits on the Stock Exchange.

Politis was critical of both the government and the political parties, because, despite minor differences, their objective was to reduce the rate of taxation for investors. It said the government should have enforced the existing legislation, which applies to all business activity, whereby the tax on profits would be between 30 and 40 per cent. Instead it was proposing a tax of between eight and 10 per cent for profits from the stock market. In a front-page editorial, the paper called on all deputies who owned shares not to take part in next Tuesday's vote on the government's bill. Otherwise, the decision would lack credibility and the House would not be seen to serve the interests of the people, but the profit-making activities of deputies and political parties, the paper concluded.

Phileleftheros reported that the foreign ministers of Cyprus and Greece had decided to take steps aimed at persuading the parliaments of the 14 EU member- countries not to block Cyprus' EU accession course. Most efforts would focus on the group of four (Germany, Italy, France and Holland), which have said that Cyprus could not join the EU before a settlement of its problem.

Machi reported that a foreign transvestite was acting as an agent for other transvestites who wanted to work in Cyprus' nightclubs. Many of them arrive in Cyprus as tourists at the invitation of the foreign transvestite, who has been working in Cyprus for some time now. Transvestites from Greece can work in nightclubs without a work permit, the paper said.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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