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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-13

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

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


Saturday, April 13, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Continued growth? It all depends on tourism
  • [02] Archaeologists threaten strike over dwindling resources
  • [03] Who's lying, who's telling the truth?
  • [04] Weston: Clerides more flexible than Denktash
  • [05] UK arrivals expected down by eight per cent
  • [06] Kykkos donates, food, medicines and money in Jerusalem
  • [07] Footballer 'victim of murder bid'
  • [08] Dangerous sweets warning

  • [01] Continued growth? It all depends on tourism

    By Soteris Charalambous

    FINANCE MINISTER Takis Klerides' positive comments about the economy earlier this week were yesterday met with a mixture of caution and negativity from different sectors of the Cypriot economy yesterday. But one thing all agreed upon: none shared the minister's observation that the economy was now less reliant on tourism.

    Agni Jacovides, Financial Planner for the Bank of Cyprus believed that government expectations of 2.5-3 per cent growth were "realistic or at least realisable". However, Jacovides expressed "some reservations" and went on to sound a note of warning: "Much will depend on late bookings in the tourism industry."

    Bank of Cyprus figures suggested that loan growth was "in-line with expectations" and that defaults on loans was no higher than expected, she said. But Jacovides was wary of the fact that "many factors" could destabilise economic growth and directly affect the performance of the bank. Any potential optimism for a resolution of the Cyprus problem and the imminent accession of Cyprus into the EU was being offset by the overall effect on tourism of violence in the Middle East.

    Melios Georgiou, General Secretary of the Retailers' Association, "does not agree" with Klerides' assessment, citing the shortfall in tourist numbers as the critical factor. Georgiou suggested that retailers, especially small to medium sized businesses, complained about "less consumer spending".

    He blamed the latent effect of the stock market crash for lower consumer spending, and predicted greater problems for retailers arising from price increases in fuel and fears that tourism might not improve over the season.

    A spokesperson for the Consumers' Association suggested the mood of the consumer did not reflect that of a growing economy, blaming high prices as the problem. Pointing to hotels as an example, she said Cypriots were not able to boost the tourist trade because hotels were too expensive. The association also believed high prices were creating a 'credit card society' and predicted that debt would become a big problem in two to three years.

    Andreas Theophanous, Professor of Political Economy at Intercollege, was cautiously optimistic about the government announcement. "The Cypriot economy is dynamic but there are structural weakness," he said. Citing over- dependence on tourism as the main problem, Theophanous stressed the importance of "diversifying the economy" to reduce dependence on tourism. He disagreed with government figures suggesting tourism made up only a fifth of GDP (gross domestic product). He believes "tourism is responsible for more than 50 per cent of foreign exchange earnings from the sales of goods and services."

    Theophanous said recent changes indicated Cyprus had become more of an "open economy" but that consumers were now suffering the effects of fall- out from the stock market crash, resulting in a reduction of purchasing power. However, he applauded the government for recent changes in taxation policy, especially reduction of taxes on profits for companies, which he said would boost investor activity and have a positive effect on the economy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Archaeologists threaten strike over dwindling resources

    By Elias Hazou

    THE ANTIQUITIES Department yesterday warned it would take drastic measures, including possible strike action, unless the government stepped in to improve working and organisational issues.

    The department claims severe under-staffing is jeopardising the proper preservation of archaeological sites and artefacts, since the current number of archaeologists and technicians cannot cope with the workload.

    Giorgos Filotheou, president of the department's council, painted a grim picture of the situation. He cited the example of Larnaca, where if no measures were taken to re-organise the facilities there, by the year 2008 just one technician would be on duty.

    "Clearly, this is a political issue," said Filotheou, explaining that government policy on antiquities was outdated and needed to change immediately.

    "After human life, our cultural heritage is the next most important thing," Filotheou noted.

    If no action was taken, he went on, the department's staff, "who are already putting in superhuman efforts," would dwindle further and not be able to provide even the minimum of services. The department has asked for a better hiring scheme that would help gradually replace retiring archaeologists and other staff, and better organisation and facilities. It has recommended that the government commission a relevant study.

    Citing another example, Filotheou said that only one person was on duty at the department's library in Nicosia. Also, from 1988 to 2002, just one additional technician was hired.

    Filotheou compared the situation in Cyprus to that in other countries, such as Greece and Israel, where the ratio of staff to archaeological sites was far better.

    The free areas of Cyprus have approximately 700 archaeological sites and monuments; the antiquities department staff numbers 66, and there are just 11 archaeologists out in the field.

    The department has already appealed to the Minister of Communications, who it says "responded with understanding." But the core problem seems to be the unavailability of funds.

    "Everyone says they care about our cultural heritage, but when it comes down to acting, no one is willing to foot the bill," Filotheou remarked.

    In what seemed a muffled warning, he said the department would take drastic measures if the government took no corrective action over the next few months. This might include going on a strike, said Filotheou, but did not elaborate further.

    The department was founded in 1935 during British rule.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Who's lying, who's telling the truth?

    How did an amendment get through without anyone knowing about it?

    By Elias Hazou

    FUZZY maths, disappearing acts by official documents and counter- accusations of outright lying marked a political spat this week over an amendment allowing deputies to purchase duty-free cars.

    The matter emerged on Monday, when press reports indicated the House had passed an amendment on a law giving deputies tax breaks when purchasing duty free cars. According to the law before it was amended, members of parliament were entitled to duty free cars of 20 horsepower and below; if they bought higher capacity cars, they would need to pay the resulting tax difference.

    The law was last changed in 1996; until then, deputies were allowed to buy any duty free any vehicle of their desire, but only once. Since then, they have had to pay the tax difference for the additional horsepower.

    According to the press reports, early this year a small group of deputies began lobbying to have the pre-1996 law carry retroactive force, arguing they had not yet availed of its special provisions. Reportedly, the two or three deputies had purchased 50-horsepower cars last year and did not receive refunds - in line with the legislation effective at the time.

    The revelations provoked a furious response from ruling DISY and opposition KISOS deputies sitting on the House Finance Committee, who said they were unaware of the amendment and had never seen in it writing.

    This raised the question of how the House could enact legislation without its plenum being informed, fueling speculation that the duty-free amendment was slipped "through the back door" as a package with other tax-related items.

    As differing interpretations much along party lines emerged on what exactly happened at the House Finance Committee, Speaker of the House Demetris Christofias and the Finance Ministry passed the responsibility onto each other for the inclusion of the controversial amendment.

    Christofias' take on the issue initially was that he was not aware of the amendment's inclusion, later saying the Finance Committee members and all party chairmen had been duly informed.

    When asked by journalists to confirm suspect practices in parliament by deputies, Christofias remarked "I don't know, but if there are such deputies, you guys should give them hell."

    On Wednesday, DISY Deputy Prodromos Prodromou asked committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou for the minutes of the March 7 meeting and a copy of the amended law. For his part, Kyprianou insists that all members of the committee had been informed.

    The confusion was compounded on Thursday, when three AKEL deputies sitting on the committee issued an announcement saying the amendment had in fact been discussed on March 7, "in the presence of DISY deputies and others."

    This sparked a furious response from Prodromou, who tied AKEL directly to the affair, accusing the main opposition party of employing "non- transparent tactics in parliament."

    With the media wondering who was lying and who was telling the truth, Prodromou threw the gauntlet down, urging Kyprianou to explain why no mention of the amendment was made during a House plenum session, as is standard practice.

    Meanwhile DISY's parliamentary delegation has issued its own announcement claiming the amendment was not discussed and that, at any rate, the party's deputies had "never" approved its passing.

    Green deputy Giorgos Perdikis said the whole affair served to highlight the inadequacies of the checks and balances system in the legislature.

    According to the salient law, deputies may replace their duty-free cars no earlier than five years after the initial purchase. However, a loophole clause allows for replacement sooner, if the owner shows that the car has been damaged in an accident or has had mechanical failure and that the cost of repairs exceeds the cost of a new car. But local press reports suggested that even these provisos carried no weight, since in practice deputies need only secure a written approval from the Parliament's chief administrative officer in order to have their car replaced.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Weston: Clerides more flexible than Denktash

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met yesterday for the second time in the third round of talks, which kicked off on Tuesday.

    The two met from 5pm to 6.30pm in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    The meeting came after US State Department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said Clerides had so far maintained a more flexible approach at the talks than Denktash.

    Speaking before an audience at a meeting of the American Hellenic Institute on Thursday night, Weston said the US had outlined this view at a recent Security Council meeting which discussed developments in Cyprus.

    Weston said that all interested parties, including the US, had to work hard to reach a settlement by June, a target date mentioned first by Denktash and adopted by Clerides and the UN Security Council.

    The US envoy reiterated Washington's backing for Cyprus' accession to the European Union and indicated that EU accession could act as a catalyst on the peace process.

    The government yesterday dismissed a US Congress report claiming that the Greek Cypriot side had put forward a proposal to set up a three-zone state in Cyprus.

    "The government wishes to deny these reports categorically," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said in a written statement.

    A local TV network on Thursday quoted the US report, dated 19 March 2002, which claimed that the Greek Cypriot side "reportedly propose that they control 52 per cent of the land, give 24 to the Turkish Cypriots and 24 to a central authority with special status over Morphou, Karpass, and two other regions, where Greek Cypriot refugees could resettle."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] UK arrivals expected down by eight per cent

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS expects a fall of between four and eight per cent in British tourists this year, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis was addressing the annual conference of the UK-based Association of Greek Cypriot Travel Agents (AGTA) in Ayia Napa, where it emerged that tourism from the UK was already down eight per cent so far this year. Germany, the island's second biggest market, was also down eight per cent and the Nordic countries down 11 per cent.

    But Rolandis, who made a plea from AGTA members for any ideas to help save this year's tourist season, said prospects were bright from Russia, Greece and Ireland this year. He said the government was prepared to consider anything that might put the industry back on rack.

    "The big question is what will happen with the UK. The estimates we made are that UK tourism will be down dour to eight per cent. These are the forecasts as of now, taking into account any late bookings," Rolandis said. "Some say this is a little optimistic, but we hope we mange to achieve even better than that. This is provided there are no other incidents in the area."

    The Minister also said another point of concern was the current cost of a holiday in Cyprus and called on hoteliers and unions to show restraint. "The combination of cost and value in Cyprus compared to other destinations in the region used to be favourable, although it was slightly higher here," he said. "This is not the case in some cases any more. The correlation has moved against us in recent years and I suggest restraint from hoteliers and unions," he added.

    Cypriot hoteliers who also addressed the conference called on the government and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) to do more to upgrade the Cyprus product

    Renos Solomonides, President of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (STEK), an organisation grouping owners of the island's luxury hotels, said the product was currently geared to appeal to British tourists. "We need to adapt to market trends if we want better results," he said. "The problem is that tourist trends are constantly changing so we are faced with a permanent challenge. We have to find ways and means to keep it competitive. Nice hotels and sometimes-good food are not enough."

    Solomonides said that since September 11, tourism trends were now defined by psychological ands sociological factors, which could result in traditional destinations losing popularity. He suggested that tourism authorities and travel specialists should remain alert to changing patterns of tourist behaviour and should regularly commission market research to identify emerging trends as early as possible to meet demands. Regretfully, market research is non existent in Cyprus" Solomonides said.

    "September 11 started a new era in travel and tourism and safety has now become a prime consideration." However, he said that on this aspect Cyprus was not too far away in distance and was also already well known to most Britons.

    "Time is of the essence or else the CTO's already-two years old ten-year plan will remain an intellectual exercise and the country will suffer and then degenerate into an undistinguished ordinary destination of cheap mass tourism," he said. "There are rapid changes coming. If those involved want to make a success of it they must recognise and respond quickly to the new challenges."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Kykkos donates, food, medicines and money in Jerusalem

    By Melina Demetriou

    KYKKOS Monastery yesterday donated 100 tonnes of food and medicines and some money to Jerusalem's Patriarchy to support those affected by the Middle East crisis.

    Three of the monastery's Fathers, Alexios, Isaias and Paisios arrived in Jerusalem yesterday to hand out the aid.

    Father Chrysostomos, of Ayios Yerasimos Monastery, in Jerusalem, said the move had taken him by surprise. "We hear so many promises every day but most of them are broken. If one per cent of those promises were kept it would be a great help," he said in an interview with CyBC yesterday.

    The aid will be distributed to monasteries in the Palestinian territories and then offered to those in need.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Footballer 'victim of murder bid'

    POLICE were yesterday investigating an attempted murder against an AEL football player from Liberia who was being treated in hospital but was reported to be out of danger.

    The football player, Alvin Kie, was yesterday attacked with a pair of scissors in Limassol by a Cypriot man from Zaire after a row over the girlfriend of the footballer, police said.

    The AEL player, who was wounded in several parts of his body, was admitted to Limassol Hospital where he had an operation. He was out of danger last night.

    The police have arrested a man who is said to have admitted trying to kill the footballer.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Dangerous sweets warning

    HEALTH authorities in Cyprus yesterday ordered the immediate withdrawal of a certain type of sweets from the market after they were blamed for the death of several children in the US and Canada.

    The sweets contain a dangerous substance called E 425 which expands the sweet when coming into contact with saliva in the mouth, leading to choking, health experts warned yesterday. Health Services officials said they were carrying out checks in shops but had not found any of the sweets yet.

    The European Commission has decided to ban the dangerous product from the EU. The sweets in question are known to be available in different shapes and the substance E 425 is among the ingredients mentioned on the product label.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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