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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-01-12

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

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


Saturday, January 12, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government threatens clampdown on illegal parking
  • [02] CTO wants on-the-spot fines
  • [03] Head slammed for cutting pupils' hair
  • [04] EAC warns it will track down every single meter scam
  • [05] The love affair with plastic continues
  • [06] Union slams ministry ahead of sales
  • [07] Savvides gives homes more time for scabies tests
  • [08] Slopes open for skiing

  • [01] Government threatens clampdown on illegal parking

    By a Staff Reporter

    A MAJOR clampdown on illegal parking is on the cards, as the government has prepared a bill on a tow-away service and wheel clamping.

    In addition to a planned pilot programme aimed at alleviating traffic congestion in cities, the bill will provide for severe penalties for offenders parking their cars in areas designated as high-circulation.

    Offenders' cars will be either clamped or towed away, depending on how long a vehicle has been illegally parked. To get their car back, offenders will have to pay £12 for the clamp to come off, or £60 to the tow-away service. In addition, local authorities will reserve the right to impose a £50 fine for the offence itself.

    According to the bill, high-circulation zones will be determined by local authorities and designated by road signs. Some areas will be made off limits permanently or for certain hours of the day.

    Meanwhile, the House was yesterday debating whether to increase fines for other traffic violations, such as speeding or not wearing seatbelts; the suggestion discussed was to raise the maximum fine from the current £50 to £100.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] CTO wants on-the-spot fines

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) wants the power to impose on-the-spot fines on tourist establishments caught red-handed flouting regulations, a spokesman said yesterday.

    Currently, complaints against establishments and violations spotted during random CTO inspections must go through a time-consuming court procedure before fines can be imposed.

    Complaint-related cases will still have to be investigated and go to court, but any establishment caught in the act by a CTO inspector will face an instant fine of £50.

    "Our inspector will have to be there to witness the offence," the spokesman said.

    Draft legislation granting the CTO the powers it requires has already reached parliamentary committee stage. A CTO spokesman said the legislation, if approved, would speed up the CTO's work. "We already have an inspectors' department and they visit all the tourist establishments," the spokesman said.

    The spokesman said that additional inspectors would not be required under the new system. "We have enough inspectors to visit the hotels, restaurants and cafés," the spokesman said.

    Citing an example of how the current system worked, the spokesman said that if an establishment served coffee without a glass of water, the case would have to go to court "one, two or three times" before the imposition of the same £50 fine. "This is worse for everyone," the spokesman said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Head slammed for cutting pupils' hair

    By a Staff Reporter

    OMBUDSWOMAN Eliana Nicolaou has slammed the management of a secondary school for "humiliating students" by forcing them to cut their hair in the middle of end-of-year exams.

    In a letter to Nicolaou, two 14-year-old students at the Katholiki Gymnasium in Limassol complained about the behaviour of their headmaster and deputy head, citing two incidents which took place last summer.

    The students said that, on June 12 last year, the headmaster walked into their classroom while they were taking an exam and ordered them and 13 of their classmates to follow him to his office. He then handed them scissors and told them to go to the toilets and snip their hair, threatening to make them re-sit their exams in September if they disobeyed. The boys said the group all complied, while two started crying and the headmaster himself chopped off one boy's hair before letting them all return to their classroom.

    The deputy head followed suit only two days after the first incident, claimed the two students. The assistant disrupted the class in the middle of an exam to ask some students to go trim their hair.

    The students' complaint concedes that just before the final exams, the school issued an announcement warning that any student who arrived in school for an exam not looking decent would not be allowed to sit the paper.

    But in a report issued on Thursday, Nicolaou charged that, "this kind of treatment was a slight on the students' dignity and particularly humiliating considering that they were made to cut their hair under threat".

    The ombudswoman described the fact that the students were interrupted while they were sitting exams as "unacceptable" and called on the Education Ministry to take the necessary measures so that similar incidents did not occur in the future.

    Nicolaou stressed that schools did not have the authority to punish students by forbidding them to take the final exams in June and forcing them to take them in September instead.

    She added that the term "decent appearance" was subjective and that each school had its own rules on the matter.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] EAC warns it will track down every single meter scam

    By Elias Hazou

    FURTHER developments unfolded yesterday in the electricity meter tampering scam, as EAC crews began to discover the extent of the problem.

    The EAC this week initiated a nationwide campaign to track down any more tampered meters; technicians were randomly sent to houses and company premises in the hope of taking possible offenders by surprise, after publicity on the issue raged last week.

    Reports yesterday suggested crews found five suspect electricity meters on different premises of a well-known bakery chain. The meters were confiscated for examination and replaced by new ones.

    Michalis Masouras, 71, a former EAC technician, has twice been remanded in custody on suspicion he altered meters to register less consumption. Last week, the government published a list of 56 names of individuals and companies believed to have been Masouras' "customers". As more evidence and testimony came to light, on Wednesday the government announced it would be soon be publishing a new list of names.

    Investigations into four or five persons or companies named in the list were expected to be completed yesterday and forwarded to the Attorney- general's office.

    But EAC officials indicated yesterday the new cases discovered were probably unrelated to the so-called "Masouras list", as a different method of tampering had been used there. Masouras is suspected of actually removing the protective screen off the devices and then manually altering the meter readings.

    "We're finding out that these people use all sorts of imaginative ways to mess with electricity meters," Giorgos Georgiades, chairman of the EAC board, said yesterday. The most "traditional" way, he said, was drilling through the device and then fitting inside a small piece of iron to prevent the meter from turning.

    Amid the outcry generated by the revelations, Georgiades warned offenders they would be tracked down, saying random checks would continue and, if necessary, all 400,000 meters in the country would be checked. "We shall comb the entire island, no doubt about that," Georgiades said.

    From the outset, the case has sparked political controversy. First, the government rushed to publish the list of 56 names amid allegations of a cover-up. Earlier this week, salvos were exchanged between the government spokesman and AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou, who claimed a former minister was named on the list, again suggesting a government cover-up. The claims were refuted by both the government and senior EAC officials.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] The love affair with plastic continues

    By Melina Demetriou

    LAST year's credit and debit card spending reached almost half a billion pounds, an increase of 23 per cent compared to 2000.

    Despite the fact that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United Sates and the ensuing war on terrorism have affected consumer spending globally, Cypriots have not made any drastic spending cutbacks, according to JCC Payments System's statistical reports.

    During the period of January-December 2001, Cypriots spent £389 million in plastic money. The amount was up by 23 per cent compared to the corresponding period in the year 2000.

    In fact, in the two months running up to Christmas (November and December) there was an increase of 27 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Although the September and October rise was not as spectacular with only a 17 and 16 per cent increase respectively, the lowest point in the year was May, with just a 14 per cent increase.

    Although Cypriots were happy to spend money within the country, spending abroad painted an entirely different picture, with only a three per cent increase in cash withdrawals and credit and debit card purchases, a JCC spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

    Until August 2001, there had been an increase of 12 per cent in plastic card activity over the corresponding period for 2000. However, in September this activity started to decline, with minus three per cent use in September, minus 16 per cent in October, minus 21 per cent in November and minus 13 per cent in December.

    A first glance at foreigners' plastic spending patterns in Cyprus appears to show positive results, with an overall 23 per cent increase last year. However, a closer look at the statistics show that after September 11 the rate of increase began to fall.

    From January to August, there was a 29 per cent increase in credit and debit card activity. However, in September there was a 13 per cent increase, October saw a 15 per cent increase, November saw a 10 per cent increase and December went up by 11 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Union slams ministry ahead of sales

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE SMALL Shopkeeper's Union (POVEK) yesterday announced the official starting date of this winter's sales, and accused the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of turning a blind eye to sales violations by larger shops and supermarkets prior to the set January 14 date.

    This year's sales will start on Monday and carry on right through until March 2, said POVEK's General Secretary Melios Georgiou.

    He said sales periods were a time when consumers, shopkeepers and the economy as a whole all benefited: shoppers were able to buy a whole range of products at much lower, competitive prices; shopkeepers were able to get rid of last season's goods and prepare for buying new merchandise; and more people were out on the streets spending.

    However, Georgiou accused the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of not taking the necessary measures to ensure that these periods were adhered to by all.

    Instead, the trade description law, the misleading and comparative advertising law, and the protection of competition law had been broken time and time again - primarily by large supermarkets and certain shops, he charged.

    Georgiou added that the Ministry's Competition and Consumer Protection Services department claimed insufficient staffing as reasons for being unable to enforce the laws effectively. Its director, George Mytides, had pleaded this argument countless times, he said.

    "However," he went on, "these Ministry officials have admitted that they are not in agreement with the law setting specific sales periods as it is in direct contrast with their service as a consumer protector, and therefore they say it is not in the consumer's interest for them to bring charges against shops selling at sales prices."

    Georgiou cited two major supermarkets as violating the rules over the Christmas season, and said the Ministry had done nothing to put a stop to it.

    "Consumers were being told that turkeys were on special offer, and yet when they went there, they were told that they had run out. In other words the supermarkets were deliberately misleading the consumers so as to entice them into their doors," he charged.

    POVEK has taken a number of legal steps to demand stricter controls over existing laws. It has also requested a legal regulation banning below cost sales altogether, claiming other European Union countries, such as Greece and France, have legislation doing just that.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, however, is unwilling to a move in that direction as the European Commission is working on a directive that would bar governments from interfering with sales below cost. He says that though he understands how shopkeepers feel, he will not jeopardise Cyprus' EU accession course to satisfy them.

    Nevertheless POVEK does not intend to give up without a fight, Georgiou said. On Wednesday, the union's national assembly decided to set up an activists' committee that would be responsible for organising national and district protests. The first demonstration will take place on February 7 outside the Commerce Ministry, followed by a march through the streets of Nicosia to the House of Representatives.

    In light of the upcoming sales starting this Monday, the Consumer's Association has issued a set of guidelines for consumers to keep in mind while out shopping.

    1. Before making any purchases during the sales period, consumers should spend time inspecting products on offer. A comparison of the quality of products in relation to their prices can then be made which will make judging the extent of the bargain easier.

    2. Watch out for offers from last year's stock, or even older stock, and ensure the goods are not faulty.

    3. Do not get carried away by "giveaway prices" and succumb to buying useless products

    4. Keep an eye out for misleading prices, such as the inflation of the original price of a product just before it's discounted. Hence what is claimed to be a sale price is in fact the original selling price.

    5. Look for a product's label in order to ensure that the before sale price and sale price is clearly printed.

    6. Make sure the product being bought is the right size, colour etc (if it is possible to try it one) as sales products are not usually exchangeable or refundable.

    7. Children's clothes and shoes do not have VAT.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Savvides gives homes more time for scabies tests

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE DEADLINE for collecting medical certificates confirming whether old peoples' homes in Limassol are clear of scabies has been extended for another few days, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    Last week, a dermatologist from Nicosia diagnosed over 25 patients and staff with the harmless skin disease - that brings on a terrible itch and sores - at a Limassol hospital. It was determined that the highly contagious condition was carried into the hospital through a geriatric patient from a local retirement home.

    Since then, Savvides set the wheels in motion to have all homes examined for the condition, and ensuring that they are up to standard.

    On Thursday, Savvides met with the Association of Owners of Old Age Homes to discuss the scabies situation in Limassol, and what measures still needed to be taken.

    Both the President of the Limassol branch of the association, Christos Metaxas, and the President of the national association, Costas Ioannides, were present.

    "The scope of the operation," Savvides said, "is not to find the guilty parties and to shut them down. Instead, we intend to help the ones that are suffering from the problem."

    He added that scabies was a common condition, and cropped up in all areas of life, not just old peoples' homes, and compared it to the fleas his children regularly brought home from school, adding its treatment was just as straightforward, as well as extremely cheap.

    "If there are old peoples' homes facing a problem, we will step in and help them through the process of complete sterilisation, as well as supply the necessary antibiotics to combat the mites," said Savvides.

    "Despite the fact that the cost of the entire project is next to nothing, the state will fund it because although private institutions are involved, the pensioners residing there are eligible for free medicine. Therefore we are not giving the medication to the home, we are giving it to the individual."

    He said the Health Ministry had no the intention of closing down any homes, and had only threatened to have their licences suspended if the owners did not respond to the request to carry out checks to confirm their status.

    "A lot of these homes do not have fax machines, and so have to respond to my request by correspondence, which will take a few days," he said, explaining the delay in collecting medical certificates from all of Limassol's 50 homes for the elderly.

    Metaxas, the Limassol association's chairman and himself a doctor and owner of a retirement home, offered to see to it that medical certificates were collected from each home in Limassol. Savvides said he was confident Metaxas would fulfil his commitment.

    Savvides added the rest of the island's retirement homes would also be called to certify their sanitation, but would not say when.

    As a preventative measure the national association had agreed to include a scabies test in their routine checks, he said.

    "We have a system in place, whereby the Ministry must be informed of any diseases such as hepatitis or meningitis, for instance. With this in mind, we have agreed to include scabies into the system, so that statistically we will be able to follow the number of cases and where each outbreak occurs," said Savvides.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Slopes open for skiing

    By Rachel Haddad.

    SKIERS should be able to use the slopes in Troodos today, the Cyprus Ski Club told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The mountain tops are covered with 110cm of snow, with still more snow falling, making it ideal for those who wish to ski, a representative of the club said.

    Both the North Face and Sun Valley area of the ski resort rent out equipment. But demand is high at this time of year, so the sooner skiers get to the resort, the higher the chance of finding equipment available for rent.

    Buying equipment in Cyprus is cheaper compared to prices in Europe and the United States. There are two main shops where ski equipment is available for sale: Mavros Sports Ltd in Nicosia (Tel: 22 680898 or 22 510800) and Force 8 Sports-The Surf and Ski Shop, Limassol (Tel: 25 359919 or 25 374012).

    Those who wish to travel to the mountains are advised to have four-wheel- drive vehicles or snow chains, and to check their cars for safety before leaving. Guidelines include having a mechanic thoroughly service the car, and checking for loose rubbers and leaks. Battery checks are also recommended.

    Other advice includes driving at a reasonable pace, slowing down for icy patches, avoiding the use of brakes, and keeping car lights on low beam for better visibility. Keeping a first aid kit, some extra blankets, matches, and ice scrapers in the car in case of any breakdowns is also advised.

    For more information, check the Cyprus ski club web page at www.skicyprus.com or Tel: 22 675340

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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