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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-30

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

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


Friday, November 30, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] House stalls CyTA price hikes
  • [02] Cypriots agree on the need to increase indirect taxes to align with EU
  • [03] Ecevit: EU enlargement hinders Cyprus solution
  • [04] Doctors battle desperate shortage of organ donors
  • [05] Share prices plunge on disappointing bank results
  • [06] An answer to unsolved murder mysteries?
  • [07] Aladdin comes back to Nicosia

  • [01] House stalls CyTA price hikes

    By George Psyllides

    THE HOUSE of Representatives last night halted a planned price hike for telephone charges to study whether or not they were justified after the Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) recently announced a surplus of around £200 million.

    The increases were part of a price restructuring programme, which started at the end of last year.

    The programme aims at eliminating the subsidisation of one CyTA service by another, which would bring the authority in line with European Union directives.

    In the final phase of the plan, which was due to go into effect tomorrow, would have seen the cost of local calls rise to two cents per two minutes at peak time instead of the current three minutes.

    Internet rates would have gone up from 1.3 cents per four minutes to two cents while the landline connection fee would have set consumers back £30 instead of the existing £25.

    But more than a few eyebrows were raised a couple of weeks ago after CyTA posted a surplus of around £200 million.

    The surplus has been the focal point of discussion with some deputies demanding that CyTA returned the money to the public because as a semi- governmental organisation it was illegal to accumulate a surplus.

    At the House plenum last night deputies could not agree whether to freeze the hikes until December 20, as ruling DISY had proposed, or February 28, as was held by the opposition parties.

    The three-month period, it was argued, was necessary for the House to look into CyTA's finances and, more specifically, its costs and profits per service, surpluses, etc.

    DISY deputies also proposed an amendment to current legislation to keep Internet charges at their current levels indefinitely.

    In the end the House upheld the opposition's proposal by a majority vote.

    Twenty-two -- AKEL, DIKO and Greens - voted for the three-month delay while 16 DISY deputies abstained.

    And this despite a last ditch morning attempt by Communications Minister Averof Neophytou to convince the House not to delay the hikes.

    During discussion of the issue, House Communications Committee Chairman DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis criticised the authority's management for their overall conduct and made it clear that CyTA's financial affairs would be closely scrutinised.

    The outspoken deputy suggested CyTA was acting surreptitiously and wondered why they had ignored three calls in the past six years to answer why they had connected all phone subscribers to 090-services.

    Pittokopitis said it was unprecedented for subscribers to be connected to a service they never asked for and be charged a £5 fee if they wanted to disconnect the service.

    DIKO Chairman Tasos Papadopoulos said CYTA's finances were never really checked and suggested the authority was being rather "sparing" with the truth.

    He said CYTA had all the time until February 28 to present the analyses of its economics and suggested that the island's obligation towards Europe was to get rid of subsidisation, something already done through legislation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cypriots agree on the need to increase indirect taxes to align with EU

    By George Psyillides

    CYPRIOTS are divided regarding the efficacy of the government's proposed tax reform, a Finance Ministry survey has found.

    The survey also revealed that a third of the island's citizens seem to be uninformed about the tax reforms.

    Presenting the findings of the study, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said it was aimed to get feedback from ordinary citizens and not organised groups.

    The survey also provided the ministry with information on the citizens' general knowledge about the measures introduced in the tax reform and on which measures there was disapproval.

    Around 36 per cent of the sample said they considered the reform positive while 31 per cent disagreed.

    The rest either did not take a position or said they did not know.

    According to Klerides, Cypriots recognise the need to increase indirect taxes for harmonisation with the European Union aquis communitaire.

    And this can be backed by the 31 per cent of interviewees who agreed with raising the VAT and 28 per cent approving hikes in other consumption taxes.

    Around 35 per cent of citizens agree with the introduction of a unified tax for companies - local and offshore - while 20 per cent disagree.

    The most important finding concerning company taxes however was the high percentage - 45 per cent -- of those who did not take sides, which could be because they were uninformed on the matter.

    The survey found that a large percentage of those asked said more information was needed on company tax, offshore company taxation, and tax breaks to companies reorganising or merging.

    The interviewees said tax breaks and social benefits should first be given to pensioners and then low earners.

    Third down the list came large families, then farmers and refugees.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Ecevit: EU enlargement hinders Cyprus solution

    TURKISH Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said yesterday that European Union efforts to reunite Cyprus were instead hampering the peace process and said a Turkish Cypriot state on the island was essential to Turkey's security.

    Diplomatic efforts to bring together the divided island have intensified as the Cyprus government nears EU membership in the first wave of enlargement in 2004.

    But ahead of a key meeting next week between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Ecevit has hardened Turkey's stance by saying that giving up Northern Cyprus would be like giving up Turkish soil.

    "If the EU would leave us one-on-one, leave us alone, the two societies, the two nations, would emerge easily from the Cyprus issue," Ecevit told members of his Democratic Left Party.

    Next week's meeting will be the first face-to-face between Clerides and Denktash since 1997 UN-brokered proximity talks broke down late last year after the Turkish leader demanded he be treated as Clerides' equal.

    "The continuing existence of the TRNC is not only important to Turkish Cypriots' security but to Turkish security," Ecevit said, adding the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline made securing the region even more essential.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Doctors battle desperate shortage of organ donors

    By Rita Kyriakides

    CYPRUS has one of the highest rates of transplants per year in the world, despite a desperate shortage of organ donors, a top doctor said yesterday.

    There has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of donors in Cyprus, despite the increasing amount of patients needing kidney, liver and heart transplants.

    In the first 10 months of this year, there have only been two organ donors, compared to the six or more donors a year over the past 15 years.

    Doctor Giorgos Kyriakides, Director of the Paraskevaidion Transplant Clinic in Nicosia told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that an average of 40 transplants were performed in Cyprus per year - a 65 per million inhabitants, one of the highest in the world.

    But he said this year's small amount of donors was " a cause for concern"as there were many patients awaiting transplants.

    Kyriakides said there were two types of donors - living donors, who are usually related to the patient, and deceased donors, usually people who have donor cards.

    The majority of donors in Cyprus are living donors, despite the fact that at least 10 per cent of people killed in traffic accident are considered suitable donors.

    " We are not praying for people to die, but we should have had at least 18 suitable donors from the people who were killed in accidents this year, "said Kyriakides.

    He believes there are two possible reasons for the lack of donors in Cyprus: either the relatives of the deceased do not want to donate their loved one's organs, or the doctors are not taking the time or effort to ask the relatives.

    " It takes a lot of effort and discretion on the part of the doctor. It is difficult to tell the relatives that their loved one is dead. Of course, there will be denial from the relatives and they need at least 24 hours to accept it,"said Kyriakides.

    He feels people have to be made more aware that they could be suitable donors.

    " Transplantation is one of the best treatments for chronic organ failure, which we cannot not give up on. We are talking about people who are dead. We are not talking about grabbing organs from people who are still alive, "said Kyriakides.

    But the laws covering organ donation are up for amendment, and the Health Ministry has drafted a bill that will put an organ registry into effect.

    According to Kyriakides, Belgium and Austria run very successful 'opt-out systems', where everyone is considered an organ donor unless they specifically register as non-donors.

    He said such a system would make things easier on doctors and on relatives, who would not have to make the decision at a time of bereavement.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday the government would seek to push through an opt-out scheme, but doubted Cyprus was ready for such a measure. He said such a provision would wipe out waiting lists for organs almost overnight, adding the registries in Belgium and Austria had been a phenomenal success.

    However, he cast doubt on whether the government would be able to push through such a provision, saying he feared society was not ready for it.

    Currently, Cyprus has an agreement with the University of Vienna and a number of successful organ transplants have been performed there.

    " There have been quite a few successful lung transplants at the University, as well as a heart transplant for a 14-year-old girl. They have enough organs to meet the local demand and can also facilitate us,"Savvides told the Cyprus Mail .

    There are currently 12 people awaiting heart transplants, 120 people on the list for kidneys transplants and 10 people waiting for livers in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Share prices plunge on disappointing bank results

    By Jean Christou

    SHARE prices plunged for the second day in a row following what analysts said were the poor Bank of Cyprus nine-monthly results announced on Tuesday.

    The all-share index plunged 4.2 per cent to 136 points, wiping out in two sessions the slow move forward the index had been experiencing over the past few weeks.

    Blue chips lost an overall 2.94 per cent, taking the FTSE/CySE index down to 538 points while volume stood at £13.3 million.

    Sectoral losses were heavy, ranging between 2.36 per cent in the banking sector to eight per cent in the technology sector.

    Bank of Cyprus, which announced an 8.8 drop in pre-tax profits for the first nine months of the year, lost five cents yesterday to close at £1.95, while Laiki Bank dropped three cents to £1.59. Both stocks topped the day's most active list.

    " What we have been seeing in the past few days means that the upward swing in the index was purely based on speculation and expectations,"said one analyst. " The Bank of Cyprus results proved to be a disappointment to investors and any decline in bank profits is bad for the market."

    Overall, only three titles recorded gains yesterday, compared to 113 decliners and 22 that closed unchanged.

    " Two successive bearish sessions with increased volume is reason enough for investors to do some soul searching and analysts to hit the graphs, "said the xak.com web analyst. " A retreat was expected after the index moved from 106 to 142. However, the trick will be for stocks to apply the break handle. Tomorrow's the last session of the month and it would serve as a great psychological boost if stocks could manage to get on their feet again."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] An answer to unsolved murder mysteries?

    WHO was Jack the Ripper? Did the US police get the right man for the murder of civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King?

    Limassol-based Bob Cracknell, Britain's leading psychic detective, will examine these and other famous cases in a lecture, titled Clues to the Unknown , organised by the Mystery Club of Intercollege next week. Cracknell will delve into several unsolved high profile murder cases. He has helped the British police in solving a number of unsolved mysteries -- including helping in the investigation of the Yorkshire Ripper murders -- and has worked closely with the FBI. He is currently working on several cases involving the CIA.

    At the lecture on Thursday, December 6, Cracknell will present two major mysteries, which remain unsolved. In the case of the infamous Jack The Ripper, he aims to demonstrate that even then, over 100 years ago, intrigue and political cover-up prevailed.

    This will be followed by a presentation of four still unsolved murders of CIA personnel and, in the major case of the evening, that of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

    Bob Cracknell aims to show that not only was this a straightforward murder and that the wrong man was convicted, but to demonstrate that a deliberate attempt was made to cover up the truth. He plans to involve members of the audience in presenting their own ideas and conclusions.

    The lecture is at the Bank of CyprusCultural Centre in Limassol (opposite Woolworth Apollon) at 7pm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Aladdin comes back to Nicosia

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ANGLO-Cypriot Theatre (ACT) premieres its annual Christmas pantomime tomorrow night at the Russian Cultural Centre in Nicosia.

    This year's production is a first-time repeat for the theatre group - of its 1991 success Aladdin .

    It is a magical tale of a boy, his mother, a princess, a wicked magician and a genie and is a mixture of comedy, song and dance, with a love theme coursing throughout.

    The parts of Princess Moonflower and Aladdin provide the romantic interest.

    This year, ACT newcomer, Natasha Johnson, plays the part of Princess Moonflower and according to a theatre spokesperson, " sings a wonderful rendition of Céline Dion's Titanictheme song, 'My Heart will go on'" .

    As all pantomime lovers know, a woman always plays the part of Aladdin. But this year ACT's long-time member Oscar Kyriakides has secured the role.

    Kyriakides has starred in numerous pantomimes, as well as directing a number of them in the past.

    The genie is played by John Faith, who " makes an impact as a vision in pink"in what the organisers promise will be a " wonderful night for both parents and their children" .

    Vince Allan, who made his ACT debut last year, plays the part of Widow Twankey, Aladdin's mother and should secure insurmountable laughs.

    Experienced director Jo Taylor, who has directed and acted in a number of ACT plays, directs this year's pantomime.

    Her most recent direction was last summer's Shakespeare play As You Like It . However, this is her first time directing a pantomime.

    The opening performances are on tomorrow with a matinée at 3.30pm and an evening performance at 7.30pm. Two more performances will be on on Sunday at the same time.

    On Wednesday, December 5, there will be an evening performance at 7.30pm.

    On December 8, there will be two pantomime performances at 3.30pm and 7.30pm closing with a final matinée performance at 3.30pm on December 9.

    Tickets cost £5 and £6 for the final matinée and are on sale at the Russian Cultural Centre, Monday-Friday, from 4pm-6pm, or from Susan Grant on 22- 329393.

    The final performances have always been well over-subscribed.

    " The matinées nearly always sell out and what often happens is that everyone wants to come the second weekend, but can't always get seats, whereas there are seats available during the first weekend, especially for the evening performances"said a theatre spokesperson.

    To avoid disappointment, ACT are therefore encouraging people to book tickets as soon as possible.

    Remaining tickets will also be available at the door.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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