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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 5, 2002


  • [01] Matsakis slams 'list of shame'
  • [02] Attorney-general examining retroactive nature of citizenship amendment
  • [03] Markets to sign co-operation deal
  • [04] More time to claim money for listed buildings
  • [05] Dividing up the sea with Lebanon
  • [06] Meningitis case 'not contagious'
  • [07] Mental Health Centre to replace psychiatric hospital

  • [01] Matsakis slams 'list of shame'

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE GENERAL manager of the Development Bank is the best paid state official in the country, earning 86,000 a year, while the President of the Republic's salary stands at just 52,000, it emerged yesterday during a discussion of budgets at the House.

    The House Finance Committee yesterday debated state proposals to raise judges' salaries and the expense allowances of senior state officials.

    After the meeting, Committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou gave reporters copies of the bill outlining revised judges' salaries, saying the Committee would study the proposal.

    But the bill also provides a list of senior officials' wages.

    The list reveals that Ioannis Ioannides, the general manager of the Development Bank, is the best-paid state official, earning 86,000 before taxes a year, while President Glafcos Clerides makes just 52,000.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou is the second best paid official, with a salary of 77,000, while three other managers at the Development Bank receive between 48,000 and 59,000 and the Oil Refinery's head earns 56,000 a year.

    Ministers get 42,800 each, with the directors general of ministries just 300 behind. Deputies receive 29,600 a year, while the House President makes 47,000 a year.

    Commenting on state officials' wages, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said yesterday "ministers' salaries are now smaller than the salaries of certain state employees and don't even compare to private sector wages."

    The salary of the President and the judges of the Supreme Court is 55,000 per annum, and the Presidents of District Courts get 42,000 each.

    Senior judges at District Courts are paid 38,500 a year.

    The bill suggests that all the above judges get a raise of about 2,000 per annum each.

    Talking to reporters at the House yesterday, DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis slammed the list of wages as "a list of shame" and accused judges of greediness.

    "How can the general manager of the Development Bank make 7,000 a month, four times more than a minister?" Matsakis asked, also criticising the fact that the Central Bank Governor earned almost 80,000 a year.

    "It seems that some have got their hands on the best of the state budget. It is terrible that judges are asking for a pay rise when a barrister can become a District Court judge with just three years of experience," he charged.

    Matsakis argued that the services a judge provided to the people were not more important than the services offered by a deputy or a doctor.

    "I am afraid I cannot say the same about reporters, I have personal views on that, " the deputy added, sparking nervous giggles among journalists.

    The pay rises are also unlikely to go down well at a time when the government is seeking to cut entry-level wages for the civil service, a move approved by their umbrella union PASYDY but strongly opposed at grass roots level.

    The director general of the Finance Ministry, Andys Tryfonides, sought to explain why expense allowances needed to be raised for the President of the Republic and the House chairman.

    "President Clerides only gets 5,000 a year for expenses, while deputies get 8,000 each as the relevant law has not been revised since 1984. So considering the Cost of Living Allowance, the President gets half the amount that he used to 18 years ago," Tryfonides explained.

    The bill calls for the President's expenses budget to go up to 12,000 and the House President's to rise to 10,000.

    The proposal also aims to increase the pension of former deputies who served in the early years of the Republic and currently only get 250 a month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Attorney-general examining retroactive nature of citizenship amendment

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday that a controversial amendment to the citizenship law had been passed to grant equal rights between men and women and was the result of a long-standing demand from women's groups and political parties.

    The amendment, approved on December 31, 2001, provides that citizenship is automatically transferred to children by a Cypriot parent of either sex, rather than just through the father as had hitherto been the case. As it stood, the law provided that children with a Cypriot father and foreign mother automatically gained citizenship, but not vice-versa. The law is retroactive, applying to all those born since independence.

    But it also has other implications - apparently unforeseen.

    The most controversial is that people born on or after August 18, 1960 - the date Cyprus gained independence - automatically become liable for 26 months of military service.

    The group affected most are the sons of Greek men married to Cypriot women, who say that after years of being treated as foreigners, they suddenly find themselves forced to do the army.

    Yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the law's retroactive clause was currently being examined by the Attorney-general, and refused to comment further pending the ruling.

    On Sunday, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said Greeks would have to join the army in accordance with the law.

    Hasikos added the Attorney-general had been asked to look into whether people over the age of 30 could be exempted.

    With existing provisions, people up to 42 could be forced to serve in the army.

    Hasikos rejected reports that the law had been passed in order to legalise Turkish settlers living in the occupied north in case the Cyprus problem was settled.

    Whatever the reasons for the amendment, the effect would still be that Turkish Cypriot women married to Turkish settlers would theoretically now pass on citizenship to their children.

    In a separate case, it was reported yesterday that a delegation from the Greek Foreign Ministry was due on the island to look into the citizenship of a number of Pontians currently living in Cyprus.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said on Sunday there were around 3,000 cases of Pontians that needed to be sorted out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Markets to sign co-operation deal

    By Jean Christou

    THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) are to sign a co-operation agreement, which will include provision for the setting up of a Cyprus derivatives market.

    In a joint announcement issued yesterday, the CSE, the ASE and the Athens Derivatives Exchange (ADE) said the protocol would be signed later this month during a visit to Cyprus by the ASE chairman. The protocol will focus on joint initiatives and an exchange of know-how relating to legislation, trading and settlement of transactions and derivative products.

    In addition, before the end of April the ASE and ADE will give the CSE a complete study on the establishment of a derivatives market in Cyprus. The proposal will include practical steps towards establishing a derivatives market in Cyprus as soon as possible, the announcement said.

    A working committee made up of members of the ASE and CSE will be set up to complete the work needed to align the two exchanges, which will include listing requirements, setting up a joint order book for the two markets and ensuring that respective members of the two stock exchanges are mutually recognised. A deadline of December 31 has been fixed for completion of the work.

    Share prices on the CSE meanwhile rose by 2.03 per cent yesterday, taking the all-share index up from last week's low of 110 points to 113 on a volume of 2.2 million.

    All sectors except fish culture companies, shedding 4.2 per cent, recorded gains ranging from 1.27 per cent in the banking sector to 6.6 per cent in the technology sector. Tourism companies added 5.4 per cent but in general the blue chips index did not do as well as the general index, adding only 1.85 per cent to 470 points.

    Overall gaining titles outpaced decliners by 66 to 17 while 64 stocks closed unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] More time to claim money for listed buildings

    THE GOVERNMENT has tabled a new bill before Parliament to give foreigners as well as Cypriot nationals more incentive to renovate listed buildings.

    The new legislation will give people six rather than four years to restore their homes and recoup the cost of land transfer from the Land Survey Office.

    Lengthy waits for planning permission meant homeowners were often pushed to make the four-year deadline to reclaim their money.

    "We found it was taking one or two years to approve permits, so it's now been raised to six years," said technician for preservation Andreas Stavrinou.

    Legislation concerning the renovation of listed property was last passed 10 years ago, and the new bill seeks to fill in gaps, in an effort to make it easier for people to do up homes.

    "We're going to put all the little pieces together to make it more simple," said Stavrinou.

    Foreigners as well as Cypriots are eligible for financial incentives under the new law, irrespective of whether the house is sold on, lived in or rented out.

    Two years ago, nine out of ten listed buildings were deemed in unsatisfactory condition, despite tax breaks and financial assistance with renovation costs.

    At that stage, only 180 out of 2,000 listed properties had been repaired, despite the approval of subsidies for 900.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Dividing up the sea with Lebanon

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS and Lebanon start negotiations to carve up the sea between them today, in a first step towards mining the natural gas discovered on off their respective coastlines.

    Lebanese Minister for Energy Mohammad Abdel Hamid Beydoun arrived in Cyprus yesterday for a two-day official visit, during which he is expected to hold talks with the Agriculture and Commerce Ministers on ownership of the seas.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that talks would focus on the limitation of the exclusive economic zone of the two countries.

    "The sea between Cyprus and Lebanon will be divided between us on the basis of an agreement," he said.

    "Yes, it is connected to the natural gas, and includes whatever else is in the sea, like fisheries," he added.

    Negotiations will be brokered in keeping with the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention.

    Discovery of natural gas under the seabed in the eastern Mediterranean at an equal axis between Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt was made public last year.

    Beydoun will meet Rolandis this morning, before talking to Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous.

    He will lunch with Rolandis today and tomorrow, before returning to Beirut on Wednesday evening.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Meningitis case 'not contagious'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A 54-YEAR-old man is being treated for streptococcal bacterial meningitis in Limassol Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, but is out of danger a duty doctor said yesterday.

    The patient was first admitted to hospital on Friday night displaying all the symptoms of the sometimes deadly illness.

    "The patient is responding well to treatment," he said "and is out of danger".

    The doctor said that meningitis has a number of bacteria, not just one type. In this instance, he explained, the 54-year-old has a streptococcus strain of the bacteria, which is neither serious, nor contagious - unlike meningo-coccus meningitis that can result in brain damage, hearing loss or a learning disability.

    He said everyone carried the bacterium around them, but that if you had a weak immune system then you were more susceptible to developing this type of meningitis than a healthy individual.

    "This particular patient is a diabetic, which means he had a sensitive immune system to begin with. People who have AIDS, diabetes, or have had transplants for instance can all get meningitis in this way because their immune system is weaker."

    But, he said, it was an easy strain to treat using antibiotics and the patients family, friends and colleagues did not need to be administered antibiotics as a precautionary measure.

    Health Ministry Chief Medical Officer, Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou, also stressed yesterday that this was not a serious case of meningitis.

    "In fact, we try to avoid making public statements about such sporadic cases because there is no reason for people to start panicking," she said.

    Hadjianastasiou agreed a diabetic was more vulnerable to infection, but said there was no reason for all diabetics to panic, as the two did not go hand-in-hand.

    "They might be more vulnerable to infection, but it doesn't mean that a healthy person can't get bacterial meningitis," she pointed out. "It's just one of the reasons why this patient may have become sick, but there is nothing for the public to worry about."

    "Had it been meningo-coccus we would have administered antibiotics to everyone who had close contact with him. Streptococcus on the other hand is not contagious and so there is no chance of an outbreak," she said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Mental Health Centre to replace psychiatric hospital

    A NATIONAL Mental Health Centre is set to replace Nicosia's Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    The old hospital will be knocked down and in its place a Mental Health Centre will be set up, offering the public support in a way other community units cannot do. Meanwhile, a support system, providing extra beds, will be set up in hospitals throughout the island for more severe cases.

    Within the next two or three years, the remaining 150 psychiatric hospital patients will be relocated to old peoples' homes, safe houses, community homes and other institutions, said the Head of Mental Health Services, Dr. Andreas Demetriou.

    He said the relocation would take place in stages, starting with the integration of 50 mentally handicapped patients into the community over the next several months.

    A committee of Mental Health Service officials and Social Welfare officials has already evaluated the first group of patients to leave Athalassa, he said, and is in direct contact with the community homes and institutions, which will house the patients within a therapeutic environment. This stage should be complete by the end of the summer.

    Of the remaining 100 patients, 30 are elderly and will be evaluated and relocated to various old peoples' homes, Demetriou said. A further 20 patients are serious relapse cases who are at the hospital to receive treatment for a period of time until they are deemed fit to be discharged and sent home.

    Finally, he said, the remaining 50 individuals residing at Athalassa Hospital are chronic patients and do not need to be in a psychiatric institution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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