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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-05-29

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Cyprus Stock Exchange
  • [02] Cyprus and Belarus sign agreements
  • [03] Finance Minister rejects criticism to tax legislation
  • [04] Slight decrease in number of smokers in Cyprus
  • [05] Kasoulides says S-300 will come since deadlock remains
  • [06] New Barbados High Commissioner presents credentials
  • [07] House Parties criticise government over tax package

  • 1600:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Cyprus Stock Exchange

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) All Share Index closed at today's stock exchange meeting as follows:
    CSE All Share Index                    85,01 ( 1,54)
    Sectural Indices
    Banks                                  98,41 ( 1,47)
    Approved Investment Companies          60,92 ( 0,15)
    Insurance Companies                    63,16 ( 2,05)
    Industrial Companies                   77,02 ( 1,91)
    Tourist Industries                     68,73 ( 0,04)
    Commercial Companies                   48,05 ( 1,76)
    Other Companies                        72,40 ( 2,78)
    Trading Volume                       1.729.060,1
    * The difference in brackets represents the percentage increase (+) or decrease (-) of the index from the previous stock exchange meeting.
    CNA MCH/1998

    [02] Cyprus and Belarus sign agreements

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- Cyprus and Belarus signed here today three agreements on the avoidance of double taxation the promotion and protection of investment and on air services.

    Speaking after the signing ceremony, Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Ling, speaking through an interpreter, said they would help enhance bilateral relations and serve the interests of the people of Cyprus and Belarus.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, who is acting Foreign Minister, described the agreements as "important" and said they create "the framework which allows us to be optimistic for our bilateral ties."

    Ling, who leaves later today after a three-day official visit to Cyprus, extended an invitation to Christodoulou to visit Belarus.

    Speaking at a press conference later on, Ling said relations could expand more in the economic field and added "our common interest will assist us in furthering our economic cooperation."

    Describing Cyprus as an international trading point, he said the right infrastructure, communication and transport links are necessary to help this effort.

    "The agreements enhance the legal basis on which bilateral cooperation is based," Ling said, noting that there are over 50 investors with Cypriot capital in Belarus.

    He said his government would be willing to help promote Cypriot goods in the former Soviet Union republics.

    Outlining Belarus' advantages, Ling pointed to its geographical location, a three-year tax free period for foreign investors and the absence of trading borders with Russia.

    Replying to questions, he said Belarus is going through a difficult period but the situation in the country is stable.

    CNA MM/MCH/1998

    [03] Finance Minister rejects criticism to tax legislation

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, today defended a 10-point government tax package rejected Thursday by the House of Representatives, noting it was within the island's economic capabilities.

    He also said the proposed legislation, by which there would have been an increase in consumer good taxes, including cigarettes and petrol, as well as value added tax (VAT), would not have had the negative effects projected.

    The 56-member House did not approve the proposed package, but referred legislation providing for an increase in VAT, abolition of duty free for semi-official organisations and a levy on mobile phones, to the House Finance Committee.

    The Finance Minister said he would continue the dialogue with the House, in the hope that a solution acceptable to all is reached especially on the measures referred to the Finance Committee.

    At the same time he said it is possible that the rest of the measures rejected would be brought again to Parliament.

    "It must be understood that as Cyprus is on its European Union course, VAT will substitute revenue lost from the abolition of other taxes," Christodoulou said.

    He pointed out that "never in the past has the House rejected such legislation", noting that he had followed standard procedure.

    Christodoulou referred to "an unpredictable development" and said he is ready to take his share of the political responsibility, if it exists.

    "The measures rejected yesterday by Parliament do not affect people as badly as it was made out they would," the Finance Minister said.

    Only ruling right-wing party DISI voted in favour of the legislation, while left-wing AKEL, centre-right DIKO, Socialist EDEK and the United Democrats voted against, disagreeing with the need for such tax increases today.

    They also criticised the government for going back on its pre-election pledge that it would not increase taxes and for not informing them beforehand on its intentions.

    CNA GG/MA/MCH/1998

    [04] Slight decrease in number of smokers in Cyprus

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- While there is a slight decrease in the number of adult smokers in Cyprus, surveys have showed that 3,6 per cent of primary school children smoke.

    The results were announced today at a press conference on the occasion of the International Day Against Smoking.

    According to a survey carried out by the University of Cyprus among youngsters between 10 and 24 years, 3,6 per cent of primary school children, 16 per cent of gymnasium pupils and 32,8 per cent of lyceum pupils smoke either systematically or from time to time.

    The percentage of students attending technical schools who smoke is 54, 8 per cent and 31,7 per cent of Cyprus University students.

    The reasons for which primary school children smoke include the fact that their father is a smoker and that they are not informed of its consequences.

    As for the rest, they smoke because their boyfriend or girlfriend smokes, because their parents do not mind or because cigarettes are easily bought.

    The youngsters surveyed said they would stop smoking if they knew more about its consequences or if they came into contact with people who are suffering its effects, such as cancer patients.

    Speaking at the press conference, Health Minister Christos Solomis described as "encouraging" the preliminary results of a survey carried out in December, according to which there is a slight decrease in the number of smokers.

    He announced there is a 4 per cent decrease among male smokers and a slight increase of 0,4 per cent of women smokers.

    "These results are encouraging because they prove we have managed to curb the increase in the number of smokers," Solomis said.

    According to this survey, 23,1 per cent of Cypriots smoke, of which 38, 5 per cent are men and 7,6 per cent women.

    CNA MK/MA/MCH/1998

    [05] Kasoulides says S-300 will come since deadlock remains

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides stressed today that since the deadlock in the Cyprus problem remains the Russian-made S- 300 defence missile system will be deployed on the island.

    "We will deploy the S-300 and let everyone assume their responsibilities", Kasoulides said in an interview with London Greek Radio (LGR), noting that the deadlock in the Cyprus question remains.

    Invited to comment on a recent warning by State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller, that the situation on the island could get worse before it gets better, Kasoulides said the government policy concerning the S-300 remains unchanged.

    "I believe that we have made a lot of suggestions," he said, noting that the Turkish Cypriot side's intransigent stance is to blame for the deadlock and the worsening of the situation in the Cyprus problem.

    The government has said it would reconsider its decision to deploy the anti-aircraft missiles if substantial progress in efforts to settle the Cyprus problem is achieved or if an agreement on demilitarisation of the island is reached.

    Asked if Miller was referring to the possibility of a hot incident in Cyprus, Kasoulides said "this is one more reason to deploy the missiles."

    Ankara has threatened not to allow the deployment of the S-300, ordered by the Cyprus government in January 1997 and expected here later this year.

    The Foreign Minister agreed that any developments in the Cyprus problem should be expected after the European Union (EU) Cardiff summit, to take place in June.

    He pointed out, however, that it is unlikely that Turkey will be satisfied no matter what it is offered in Cardiff.

    Kasoulides said Ankara's stance is a well calculated effort to blame the EU for the deadlock in the Cyprus problem, adding that Turkey is trying to make Europeans feel guilty in order to satisfy its demands.

    The EU had asked Turkey to back efforts to settle the Cyprus question, iron out relations with Greece and improve its human rights record and economy, in order to improve relations between them.

    On his part, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he will not participate in peace talks unless Cyprus withdraws its application to join the EU and his illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas is recognised.

    EU open accession talks with Cyprus got underway in March.

    Referring to his contacts in Ireland this week, Kasoulides expressed satisfaction noting that "the course of history of the two countries has many similarities".

    He also described the recent Agreement concerning Northern Ireland as "important", pointing out that "there are many lessons and examples to be learnt from the way this agreement was achieved".

    Kasoulides said he considers the fact that both the Irish Republic and Britain are EU members as one of the main reasons of success in Northern Ireland.

    "This encourages us that Cyprus' accession course will act as a catalyst for the smooth re-unification of the island," the Foreign Minister concluded.

    Kasoulides has already left London for Athens where he will meet Greek government officials later today.

    CNA KN/MCH/MA/1998

    [06] New Barbados High Commissioner presents credentials

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- New High Commissioner of Barbados to Cyprus, Peter Simmons, today pledged to work towards strengthening existing ties between the two countries.

    Presenting his credentials to President Glafcos Clerides, Simmons pointed out to the small size of the two island states, but said "despite this apparent disadvantage, our countries still continue to make their contribution to the international arena, in agencies such as the Commonwealth, the UN and WHO."

    He also thanked the government of Cyprus for its assistance in the election of Sir George Alleyne as WHO Director General.

    In his reply, President Clerides thanked the government of Barbados to its consistent support for the implementation of UN resolutions on Cyprus.

    He also noted that the two countries "are linked together with bonds of friendship and cooperation based on their common adherence to the values of freedom, peace, justice and respect for human rights."

    Referring to the Cyprus problem President Clerides pointed out that it remains unresolved due to "the continuing rigid and intransigent positions of the Turkish side".

    He said Turkish demands for a change of the basis of the intercommunal dialogue, recognition of the illegal entity in the Turkish occupied areas of the island and withdrawal of Cyprus' application to join the European Union "cannot and will never be accepted".

    The President said these demands, put forward by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as a precondition for his return to the negotiating table, contravened UN resolutions on Cyprus and international law.

    He also reiterated the government's political will for a peaceful settlement in Cyprus.

    CNA MA/MCH/1998

    [07] House Parties criticise government over tax package

    Nicosia, May 29 (CNA) -- The majority of political parties represented in Parliament believe a 10-point government tax legislation package, rejected yesterday, would have affected the less privileged classes.

    They also believe new taxes are not necessary today and they criticise the government for the handling of the issue and backing down from pre- election pledges not to increase taxes.

    Five of the measures concerning tax on consumer goods were rejected altogether while the remaining five, including the increase of value added tax (VAT), were referred to the House Finance Committee.

    Only ruling right-wing DISI deputies voted for the package in Thursday's plenary, 33 of the present MPs voted against and there was one abstention.

    DISI leader Nicos Anastasiades today acknowledged that "probably more consultation was needed among parties before the tax measures were brought before Parliament".

    He also stressed the need for more cooperation, coordination and understanding and referred to a "wrong impression" that the parties would have voted for the measures.

    Centre-right DIKO party leader and House President Spyros Kyprianou, said his party voted against the measures because "they would have affected the less privileged class".

    He added that not only during its pre-election campaign but even after President Glafcos Clerides' re-election in February the government had pledged not to increase taxes this year.

    Kyprianou also said that agreement could be reached if all parties participated in a dialogue on economic issues.

    Left-wing AKEL Dimitris Christofias described the measures proposed as "unbearable" for both the economy and the low income groups and said they would increase inflation.

    The main opposition leader also pointed to President Clerides' pre- election promise and supported the government does not have a strategy on the economy.

    Socialist EDEK, that is participating in government, slammed if for being "politically unreliable" with regard to the tax package proposed.

    It also said that the government had not studied alternative solutions before going ahead with its proposals and stressed that "no developments have taken place in the past three months that call for such measures".

    United Democrat MP Androulla Vasiliou also expressed the view that the economic situation since the elections has not changed to an extent that would justify such a change of policy.

    She criticised the government for not briefing the parties participating in government, including the United Democrats, on its intentions.

    It was the first time the House rejected a government tax legislation package.

    The measures would have increased public revenue by 143 million pounds (about 270 million US dollars) in 1998.

    CNA MA/MCH/1998
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