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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-14
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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Sunday, December 14, 1997
 Overtime scam at government department?By Jean Christou
A GOVERNMENT department, desperate to use up it's £3.5 million overtime budget by the end of the year, has ordered staff to drop everything and work on a designated backlog, the Cyprus Mail has learned.
But while lower grade staff work to clear the files during office hours, the overtime perks are going to the fat-cat bosses who only sign on the dotted lines in the afternoons.
Sources in the Lands and Survey's Department, who wished to remain anonymous, said that two weeks ago several employees in the 'search' section were told to halt their regular work and take up the backlog in 'taxes and registry'.
"They were told the overtime money had to be used up by the end of the year, " one source said.
But the Cyprus Mail has further learned that the department's entire overtime budget of £3.5 million has in fact already been used up, and that a request for a supplementary budget for an unspecified amount has been submitted to the House of Representatives for approval.
No one doubts the need for overtime payments in the department as it has one of the biggest backlogs in the entire civil service, and there is a complicated method of overtime calculation since employees are allowed to take home 'piecework'.
But the employees who have been told to drop their regular work feel their bosses have acted unfairly and unethically.
"All (the bosses) are doing is using employees to create work for themselves for the afternoon, but they only have to sign their names. This is something they could do in the mornings," the source said. "They are taking a lot of money to do nothing."
The House approved an overtime budget of £3.5 million in 1996, which was to cover the department's needs for 15 to 18 months, according to the Auditor- general's latest report.
The Auditor-general, Spyros Christou, said he had no knowledge of anything being amiss at the department.
He said very strict criteria governed overtime claims in the civil service.
Those who do overtime have to show what work they have done. "The criteria are very strict," Christou said.
He added that if anyone had evidence of abuses of the system he would be willing to look into it.
The Director of the Lands and Surveys Department was unavailable for comment during the week, despite repeated calls to his office.
However, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, under whose jurisdiction the department falls, said that several factors were at work when it came to overtime at the department. "It's a mosaic of things," he said.
He said that when staff began clearing the original backlog, a new law emerged in relation to property taxes.
This prompted a lot of property owners to transfer their land, creating another backlog.
The issue of some 3,000 to 4,000 title deeds to refugees created a further mountain of work in the department, since all houses had to be checked to ensure the refugees still lived there. "This took about six months," the official said.
The proposed computerisation of the department has also created extra work.
The official added, however, that if what the sources said about the current practice was true, it would indeed be unethical and he would be prepared to look into it further if given the information.
 Public not so sure about economic upturnBy Charlie Charalambous
HOWEVER much the government may hail the prospects for economic recovery, the general public appears much less inclined to optimism according to a recent study.
Research into social perceptions on the economy, carried out by the Cyprus College Applied Research Centre, indicates that a majority of those polled expected little improvement in 1998.
Of the 600 people polled, 33 per cent believed there would be a slight or significant improvement in the economy next year, while 52 per cent expected things either to get worse, improve slightly or remain the same.
Researchers found that those who expressed more optimism about economic prospects were well educated and worked in the business community or the civil service.
Those who had a more negative stance were among the elderly, the less educated and those employed in manual labour.
On the question of economic policies, the majority (78 per cent) were against the abolition of CoLA - the Cost of Living Allowance, while 82 per cent opposed a cut in defence spending.
Most people were also in favour of civil servants taking a pay cut (64 per cent), and were against any restriction on imports (48 per cent).
Paradoxically, the research discovered that one in five people employed in the wider public and semi-government sector also supported pay cuts for civil servants.
Some 41 per cent of those questioned believed the gap between rich and poor was widening, with 40 per cent believing the income difference was appropriate.
However, 68 per cent thought the government should play a role in trying to reduce the gap between rich and poor, but did not feel it should be done through higher taxes.
The last such survey two years ago showed that some 78 per cent of those asked felt the government should do more for the disadvantaged.
The majority of Cypriots support neither higher taxes to raise money for health and education nor a tax cut which might affect spending in these sectors.
(See also editorial)
 Holbrooke's 'awesome' Cyprus seminarUS SPECIAL emissary Richard Holbrooke last week called a secret meeting on Cyprus at the State Department, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) reported yesterday.
According to the mainland Turkish paper, Holbrooke gathered together acknowledged Cyprus experts from across the US and Canada to listen to them and benefit from their experience.
"But shortly after the meeting started, Holbrooke, who was once referred to as a 'bull who takes his own china shop with him' by one of his colleagues, took over and dominated the session with his characteristic forceful style, " TDN said.
The paper added that he explained to the experts how complex the Cyprus issue was by citing all the policy linkages that existed between the Cyprus conflict and about ten other volatile issues in and around the region.
"This was one of the most awesome presentations I've ever witnessed in my life," one of the participants told TDN.
Holbrooke reportedly zeroed in on Germany saying that country's approval of Turkey's eventual accession to the EU was the key to move the Cyprus issue forward.
If Germany conceded to a formula that would keep Turkey's hopes for the joining the EU alive, then Ankara might be more willing to make the necessary concessions and influence the Turkish Cypriots for the eventual settlement of the Cyprus problem, Holbrooke allegedly said.
 Koshis to meet with bases to talk crimeBy Charlie Charalambous
JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis is seeking closer co-operation with the British bases to help smash organised crime.
Koshis will have scheduled talks with bases authorities next week to find ways to combat suspected animal, drug and gun smuggling from the occupied areas through the bases.
According to press reports, the police are also concerned about the number of bomb and arson attacks which have taken place in villages within the bases.
The police is thought to have information suggesting that organised crime might be using the bases to hide drugs and weapons.
Koshis told Simerini newspaper that he was meeting the bases commander to study closer co-operation and joint police action within the framework of a common effort to fight organised crime.
"The justice minister will call on the administrator of the bases, but this is in no way associated with any alleged criminal activity on the bases," bases spokesman Captain Sean Tully told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
He said the visit was an extension of the excellent working relationship between the SBA and Cyprus police.
"Suggestions of the bases being used as a harbour for criminal activity are completely untrue," said Tully.
He said the alleged connection between organised crime and the bases would not be a "core feature" of the meeting but could be an agenda point.
"If Mr Koshis has concerns in a specific area then we are always happy to discuss any items that are relevant," said Tully.
The bases are also anxious to dispel any suggestion that they are soft on crime.
"We certainly would not sit back and let crime go ignored," said Tully.
 The cop, the dancer and the cabaretLARNACA court was yesterday treated to a torrid tale of love, deceit and arson allegedly involving a former special cop, a cabaret owner and a Romanian dancer.
A lovestruck ex-special constable George Temenes, 31, was remanded in custody for three days suspected of trying to torch the Atlantis cabaret in Larnaca.
Police told the court that Temenes had differences with the cabaret owner because he had fallen for one of his dancers and did not want her sent back to Romania.
Temenes, who is separated from his wife, had struck up a relationship with dancer Kornilia Oxana and decided to marry her.
But his family were against the marriage and tried to have the Romanian woman deported, according to police.
The suspect then approached cabaret owner Alexandros Dovertou to prevent this from happening; he in turn requested £1,000 to keep Oxana in Cyprus, the court was told.
Temenes, however, was apparently unable to come up with the money, and the owner later made arrangements to send Kornilia back to Romania.
Temenes was arrested following the December 12 arson attack on the Atlantis cabaret. He denies the charge.
 Car theft ring smashedHERTFORDSHIRE police have officially thanked their Cypriot counterparts for helping to smash a luxury car smuggling ring in the UK.
Due to the assistance of local police, the British force managed to secure six convictions and recover 44 vehicles worth a total of £750,000.
Two Cypriots were among the six convicted in Britain for conspiracy to steal cars.
Hertfordshire detectives came to Cyprus to track down the operation and yesterday congratulated Cypriot officers for their professionalism.
In a letter sent to Police HQ, the British force said they would not have got the convictions or recovered the vehicles without the help in securing witnesses in Cyprus. TWO Israeli Arab brothers were remanded by the Nicosia court for eight days yesterday on suspicion of possessing counterfeit US dollars. According to police, Sami and Edward Niatjiar, aged 37 and 48 respectively, arrived in Cyprus early on Friday. They then allegedly went to a leather shop in Latsia and purchased £140 worth of goods, which they paid for with four US$100 bills which police believe to be fake.
TWO Limassol men were remanded for six days yesterday for allegedly cultivating cannabis plants. Lefkios Charalambous, 23, an electrician and Nicosia Constantinou, 33, who is unemployed, were remanded after police discovered six cannabis plants growing in pots at an abandoned house.
 No overseas polling for presidential voteSPECIAL polling centres will not be set up overseas for the forthcoming presidential elections in February.
Those who have a right to vote but are temporarily living abroad, such as students and diplomats, will have to pay their own way back to exercise their democratic right.
In an announcement, the central election service said that, "for mainly practical reasons", polling stations could not be established at Cyprus embassies abroad.
But the centre did point out that students, and others, could fly back to Cyprus if they wished to vote on election day.
The major parties usually heavily subsidise the bill for thousands of students to return to vote in order to boost their chances of winning.
Many believe President Clerides secured his narrow victory in 1993 because Disy attracted a large number of students back to vote, while Akel tried to cut costs in this area.
 Apollonas win puts them two points from topBy George Christou
A SECOND-HALF goal by substitute Tsolakis gave second-placed Apollonas a 1- 0 win at Paralimni yesterday and took them to within two points of leaders Anorthosis who have a game in hand.
Alki climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time this season with a brave second half fightback which saw them beat Salamina 3-2. They have taken maximum points from their last three games.
The other Larnaca club, Aek, came alive in the second half, after going a goal down to bottom club Ethnikos Ashias, to win 4-1 and move into fourth place in the table.
Finally in Limassol, Ael, despite missing several first team players, scored their second home victory of the season and moved into eighth place in the table. They beat Anagennisis 3-1.
Apollonas had to work very hard for the three points against Paralimni who were unfortunate not to take anything from the game. It was their fourth home defeat of the season.
However, they had created enough scoring chances to have won but the Apollonas keeper was in good form. Tsolakis headed in Apollonas' winner from inside the six-yard box in the 67th minute.
Apollonas could have had a second in the 85th minute but Spoliaric shot wide from the penalty spot. The penalty was awarded for a handball by Gumenos who was sent off.
Alki, who started the season with one point from their first eight games, have rediscovered their winning form. Yesterday they were put in front by Delaboutin in the 24th minute, but Salamnia drew level through Kovasevic in the 38th.
They fell behind immediately after the interval to an Angeli goal but Delaboutin restored parity in the 70th minute. Christodoulou headed in the winner 10 minutes before the end.
After a very poor first half, Aek needed to fall behind to a 56th minute goal by Ashias' Demetriou before they finally woke up. Two goals in two minutes from Georgiou and Klimis Alexnadrou, set Aek on the way to victory.
Georgiou got his second in the 80th minute while Thedotou scored the fourth, after being set up by Edvaldo in the dying seconds.
Anagennisis slumped to their sixth defeat in Limassol yesterday and have moved into the relegation zone. Demetriou put the home side in front after just four minutes, but Anagennisis levelled through Thoma. Second half strikes by Ioannou and Neophytou wrapped up the victory for Ael.
Today Anorthosis are at home to Ethnikos Achna who will not be looking forward to the visit to the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium. No visitor has left the stadium this season conceding less than five goals. In four home games, Anorthosis have scored 22 goals.
The tie will see three players confronting their respective previous clubs. Ashiotis and Neocleous moved to Ethnikos from Anorthosis this summer, while Engomitis moved in the opposite direction.
Apoel will be fielding only one foreigner as they look for their first win of the season at the Makarios stadium against Evagoras. Dulando is suspended, while Austrian midfielder Hertnagl is said to have fled Cyprus after a pay dispute with the club.
The Austrian was reportedly furious with Apoel because he was owed money and decided to leave. Apoel have said they have reported the Austrian to Uefa for breach of contract. At least their top scorer, Croatian striker Koznikou is receiving his salary on time.
 Veteran actor diesVETERAN Cypriot actor Andreas Moustras died from lung cancer in a Nicosia hospital yesterday.
Moustras, 71, had been suffering from lung cancer for three years and was taken yesterday from a private clinic to Nicosia General hospital, where he died at 6.30am.
Stage actor Moustras' funeral will take place at 11am today at the Panayia Chryseleousa church in Strovolos.
All expenses will be paid by Thoc and the actors union.
As a mark of respect, today's performance of the Prince of Venice at Nicosia's municipal theatre is cancelled.
 Man killed in car crashA 48-YEAR-old man died after he lost control of his car and struck a building then a sign post before ending up in a ditch.
George Malouppas from Kokkinotrimithia died in hospital yesterday morning soon after his car careered off the road near his village at around 1am.
 Clerides hails EU invitationBy Jean Christou
PRESIDENT Clerides has welcomed the European Union's decision to open accession talks with Cyprus, calling it "a historic step forward". Speaking to journalists at the EU summit in Luxembourg yesterday, Clerides expressed "full satisfaction" with Friday's decision to include Cyprus in the Union's next expansion and said it could end the 23-year division of the island. EU leaders decided on Friday to open accession negotiations with Cyprus and five East European Countries. Another five East European countries will be kept involved in the process. Children enjoy a seasonal treat in Nicosia's Ledra Street yesterday as they plummet down a slide laid with artificially created snow (Photo: Christos Theodorides)
"It is a great step forward, a historic step forward for Cyprus and something which will help towards a solution of the Cyprus problem and be beneficial to all the communities of Cyprus," Clerides said.
He also hoped Turkey would accept the EU's offer to join the other 11 applicants at the European Conference, seen as a ante-chamber for countries that aspire to membership.
Clerides said EU leaders had all agreed that Turkey was eligible to join but that it must meet certain conditions. He said the "poor" Turkish economy would require a tremendous effort to match EU requirements and that Ankara would have to make significant improvements on human rights.
The summit's final communiqué, issued yesterday, said the members of the Conference "must share a common commitment to peace, security and good neighbourliness, respect for other countries' sovereignty... and a commitment to the settlement of disputes by peaceful means."
Turkey must also support the UN-backed intercommunal talks on Cyprus, the document said.
Under the EU accession plan there will be a common starting line for all ten East European countries and Cyprus, but each country will follow a different timetable.
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, also in Luxembourg, said Cyprus should become a full member quickly, "in three to four years". Cyprus would probably be the first of the new intake to complete the process, he said.
"The negotiations should be short because a lot of work has been done already," Cassoulides said.
The government is also satisfied with the reference made to Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession talks, President Clerides said.
The summit communiqué said Cyprus's accession should benefit all communities on the island and help bring about "civil peace and reconciliation".
"The accession talks will contribute positively to the search for a political solution to the Cyprus problem through talks under the aegis of the UN which must continue with a view to creating a bicommunal, bizonal federation," the document said. It adds: "The Council notes the willingness of the government of Cyprus to include representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the accession negotiation delegation."
Clerides commented: "Of course, we never denied their (the Turkish Cypriots') participation in the Cypriot delegation under the auspices of the Cyprus Republic. We had said this has always been our stance."
He said the paragraph referring to Turkey's accession course would also be "very helpful" because it stipulates that Ankara must help towards a political solution.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has expressed his dissatisfaction with the EU's decision to start accession talks with Cyprus.
He told Turkish Cypriot journalists it did not help to promote a solution and accused the EU of putting a stop to intercommunal talks with "its interference".
"It seems the Greek Cypriots, Greece and the EU do not want a settlement of the Cyprus problem," Denktash was quoted as saying in yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press.
However, Denktash played down previous threats to partially integrate the occupied areas with Turkey if Cyprus's EU accession talks went ahead.
Asked if such a move was afoot, Denktash said annexation was not on the cards and that the word "integration" had been wrongly interpreted. "We are not using that word either. We are talking about a special relationship (with Turkey)," he said.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997
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