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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-21

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

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


Friday, June 21, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Electricity prices to rise 22 per cent by next autumn
  • [02] EAC confident contingency planning will avoid major power cuts
  • [03] Masouras jailed for tampering with electricity meters
  • [04] Denktash says Greeks trying to foil talks
  • [05] Church land demarcation: no evidence against officials
  • [06] Drug trafficker jailed for three years
  • [07] High Commissioner takes his bow in Bonn

  • [01] Electricity prices to rise 22 per cent by next autumn

    By Alexia Saoulli

    WITHIN the next year, households will face a 22 per cent increase in electricity rates, EAC spokesman Tassos Roussos said yesterday.

    But despite the fact that the rise sounds steep, consumers should not be alarmed, he insisted, stressing the increase would translate into very little on actual bills.

    The rise in price comes in line with EU harmonisation regulations, Roussos told the Cyprus Mail, and would take places in three stages.

    "The European Union stipulates that everyone has to be charged according to what expenses they incur to the network to satisfy their electrical demands and that no consumer category should subsidise another."

    Roussos said that, until now, industries had subsidised household electricity rates, which was why they had so far been kept so low. As a result, while household electricity prices would increase by 22 per cent, industrial electricity costs would decrease by approximately the same amount.

    These changes will affect approximately 300,000 households and will mean an overall increase in annual revenue of 12 million. In turn around 77,000 industries will reap the benefits from this drop in rates.

    "The increase will take place in three stages," he said. "The Cabinet approved the amendment yesterday and now it has to be authorised by the House. After that, the first increase should be enforced by autumn this year."

    The first increase would be around seven per cent, but not everyone would be affected in the same way, Roussos said, adding there was a continuing debate over whether farmers should enjoy lower rates.

    "Increases will be according to consumption and in some cases there will be reductions. For instance, pensioners or less affluent members of society might only use 100 units of electricity every two months. These individuals will note a 3.3 per cent reduction in their electricity bills, instead of an increase."

    However, an average home consumes 600 units in two months, he said, and it would see a 4.2 per cent increase in bills.

    "It might sound like a lot, but when you transform the figures into real money it really isn't much at all. As rates stand today, 600 units are billed at 34.32. During the first stage this will increase to 35.76. Therefore we are talking about less than a 1.50 increase, which could hardly be called steep."

    Roussos admitted that larger households would have greater increases, but even they would not suffer too much.

    "The most a large home might use every two months is 1,300 units. During the first stage the charge will inflate by 7.1 per cent. So from the current rate of 74, households will now be charged 79.23. Again, as you can see, it's not such a great difference."

    The second increase will take place in late spring 2003, followed by the final adjustment in late autumn of the same year, he said.

    "That way we will be in line with EU harmonisation by 2004, when we are expected to join," he said.

    But, he stressed, the Electricity Authority would not be profiting from this adjustment in any way, as it would get less money from industry.

    "Whenever people hear the word increase they start to complain. This is not about profit though, nor are we out to get peoples' money. We are merely complying with EU regulations."

    The proposal will be discussed at the House within the next few days, when a final decision on the matter will be made.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] EAC confident contingency planning will avoid major power cuts

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CONSUMERS should not be worried about large-scale power cuts this summer, a senior Electricity Authority (EAC) official said yesterday.

    "We do not foresee having any serious problems this year because we have sufficient generation, so consumers should not be worried," EAC spokesman Tassos Roussos told the Cyprus Mail. "Besides in the event of an emergency, such as a technical problem that affects electricity output, there is a protective system we will implement to avoid entire districts losing power."

    This system involves shutting down the air conditioning systems of all large companies and hotels that use a Kilo Volt Amper (KVA) of over 50, he said.

    "Individual homes will not be affected in the slightest," Roussos stressed. "We are talking about major electricity consumers such as sizeable corporations and hotels. A standard metre for a home is only four KVA for instance, whereas since 1993, to be included in this system a building must use a minimum of 50 KVA.

    "I don't think there will be a problem this summer," he said, "but you never know. In the likelihood of the unexpected happening, we are prepared to cut off all major air conditioning supplies so as to reduce electricity output drastically until the problem can be rectified."

    He said the system was national and would not target specific areas, so as to avoid expansive power cuts.

    "By implementing this system we avoid a major power overload, which in turn prevents power cuts in entire areas. This way we maintain enough electricity to satisfy everyone."

    Although he agreed hotels might suffer without air conditioning with the temperatures hitting 42 or 43 degrees Centigrade, he insisted they would suffer far more if they could not operate all their other electrical appliances because of a system overload leading to a general power cut.

    "You have to remember that Hotels do not just use air conditioners. They have fridges, lights, kitchen appliances and a whole host of other services that rely on electricity to operate. Without it, the running of the place would come to a standstill. Therefore losing their air conditioning for several hours would hardly be the end of the world compared to what the consequences would be if they lost their power altogether."

    But, just because this system is in place, it does not mean it is going to be used.

    "I must stress that this system is a precautionary measure and it does not mean that we are expecting to have to put it into operation. The unexpected might happen, but then again it might not. It is purely an emergency system, nothing more and nothing less," Roussos said, adding that two years ago the measures had had to be implemented for a time due to a problem with electricity output.

    However, even though the EAC has enough generation to go around for everyone this summer, the capacity of distribution and transmission is another matter.

    "There are some areas that are more problematic than others, but this is through no fault of the EAC," he said. "There are some districts that want and need more transmission lines so that they can all make use of air conditioning systems, for instance. Naturally it is their right to have this extra capacity and they should have it. However, when it comes to us building a new line or substation in their area, they complain and don't want it."

    Roussos said there were around eight or nine such schemes in the pipeline, with delays of between two and 11 years.

    "Take the Troodos area for example. We need to reinforce the Limassol power line leading to the mountain region and we also have to build a new line leading to it from Orounda village for alternative supply. But the locals keep complaining and so the entire upgrading process has been delayed for years," he said. "What they don't seem to understand is that the network they have in place at the moment cannot cope with the growing demand for electricity, nor can it be expected to last forever, which is why they are more likely to suffer from power cuts."

    Roussos added that tourist districts and industrial areas tended to consume more electricity than any other area.

    "Obviously place like Ayia Napa and Limassol have higher electricity demands than other areas, just the way towns consume more power than rural areas do. But this does not mean that one district will more likely be affected by a power overload over another."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Masouras jailed for tampering with electricity meters

    By George Psyllides

    A RETIRED electricity authority (EAC) worker yesterday began a one-year jail sentence after he was found guilty for tampering with electricity meters so they would show lower readings.

    In his summation on Wednesday, Judge Alecos Panayiotou stressed that 73- year-old Michalis Masouras had "effectively set up an operation for defrauding the EAC by systematically intervening on EAC meters across the island with profit being his sole cause.

    "His island wide criminal behaviour extended from Paralimni to Pyrgos, even close to the area of occupied Zodia.

    "Intervention on the meters was indiscriminate concerning the places.

    "From flats to factories, supermarkets, bakeries and farms, to water pump meters, all became the target of his illegal operation," Judge Panayiotou said.

    Masouras was jailed after pleading guilty to conspiring with intent to defraud.

    He was arrested in December last year and had initially admitted to 'fixing' an electricity meter in the Famagusta area to indicate lower readings and in effect lower bills.

    Police found a notebook in Masouras' possession, which contained the names and addresses of his clients.

    The defendant told police that he agreed with the owners of the meters to turn their clocks back and admitted guilt to seven instances as well as 47 others that have not, however, been filed in court yet.

    Masouras' defence asked the court to consider the defendant's age and clean record and stressed that he had co-operated with police immediately after his arrest.

    The court also took into consideration the confiscation of 15,000 found in Masouras' possession, but nevertheless sentenced him to 12 months in prison noting that "the planning and extend of the intervention on the meters on a wide scale, and the creation of an operation for defrauding the EAC with such a professional manner constitute an unprecedented criminal behaviour for Cypriot standards".

    The trials of several of the owners of the meters are expected to begin soon.

    The matter sparked controversy last year after it emerged that many prominent people and businesses had appeared in Masouras' notebook.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Denktash says Greeks trying to foil talks

    By Gokhan Tezgor

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday the Greek Cypriot side had tried this week to provoke a breakdown in negotiations to end division of the island, but insisted talks would "continue until the end".

    "There were moments where we just stood waiting for the other side to get up and walk," he told Reuters in an interview. "Neither side did and they couldn't afford to."

    Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides are under pressure to seal a deal by the end of the year when the EU will decide a timetable for its next enlargement, which is expected to include Cyprus.

    But admission of the island ahead of a solution could stir a deep crisis between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, with Ankara threatening to annex the north in such an event.

    Denktash cited reports in the Greek Cypriot media that talks were foundering on his intransigence. He offered his own account of his last meeting with Clerides this week.

    "On Tuesday, they were trying very hard to force the Turkish side to walk out," he said. "Their position is that we are the intransigent (ones), that we run away, we stop talks. They did everything possible."

    Diplomats, however, have been inclined to agree that the Turkish side has not shown sufficient flexibility.

    "There have been signs from the Greek Cypriot side of genuine flexibility," British envoy Lord David Hannay told Turkey's CNN Turk last week. "I don't want to be too categorical about the Turkish Cypriot side but I have been disappointed at various moments in recent weeks."

    The United Nations, brokering the talks, has pressed for the outline of an agreement at the end of this month. But Denktash said this was not possible.

    "Autumn is a possible target, but both sides must sincerely project their views and not hide behind slogans."

    Denktash said Tuesday's showdown came over the issue of security, one of four core issues earmarked for negotiation. The other three are territory, governance and property.

    Denktash, who had been scheduled to have heart surgery possibly in August, said there was no question of the talks being delayed by his health problems.

    "For us, negotiations are continuing and will continue until both sides decide they cannot do so any longer," Denktash said, adding that he would meet Clerides again on June 25 to discuss territorial issues.

    The Turkish Cypriots currently occupy about 37 per cent of the island and would be expected to yield some territory to the Greek Cypriots. The island, in general terms, would consist as it does now of two zones -- one Turkish and the other Greek.

    The zones would have broad autonomous powers. But there are differences over the breadth of power of a central Cyprus authority and over ways of settling the property issues that arise from the movement of populations in the invasion.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Church land demarcation: no evidence against officials

    By George Psyllides

    INITIAL examination of the reports concerning the involvement of three government department heads in the demarcation of Church land acquired by the chairman of the Civil Service Committee has come up empty, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday.

    Panayiotou had requested reports two days ago from the directors of the land survey and town planning departments as well as the Famagusta district officer concerning two cases of Church land acquired by Civil Service Committee Chairman Andreas Karageorgis.

    The first case concerned the demarcation of land near the village of Moniatis in the Limassol district, and the other one a road that leads to Karageorgis' plot on the Ayia Napa coast.

    Yesterday, Panayiotou said that from his initial examination of the reports he did not find anything improper regarding the involvement of the three officials.

    Nevertheless the reports would be forwarded to the Attorney-general Alecos Markides for further assessment, Panayiotou said.

    "(The attorney-general should) study them in detail and if necessary give instructions for further action," Panayiotou said.

    The issue emerged last week with extensive reports in the daily press alleging that the Archbishop's relatives have over the years managed to get their hands on huge expanses of Church land, which they subsequently sold raking in millions of pounds in profits.

    Yesterday, the outspoken Bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos continued his attack against the Archbishop's relatives charging that what they have allegedly done was an "abomination, which showed their morality".

    Chrysostomos however added that he disagreed with getting the state involved in the affair.

    "Personally as the Bishop of Paphos I would never want to involve the state; but if there is any offence there is the police, the courts and prison," he said.

    The Bishop of Kition Chrysostomos yesterday said it would be impossible to carry out a Church investigation into the allegations.

    "I wonder if anyone could carry out the investigation now, in light of article eight of the Church charter, which stipulates that only the Archbishop could summon the Holy Synod and if he could not he had to name his replacement.

    The Archbishop is currently being treated in an Athens hospital after a fall in which he had suffered head and back injuries.

    It is doubtful however that he would ever be able to resume his duties again since it has been reported that he is suffering with Alzheimer's disease.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Drug trafficker jailed for three years

    English Cypriot Michalis Michael, 23, from Larnaca was yesterday sentenced to three years imprisonment after being found guilty of possession and importation of 487 Ecstasy pills and six Methadone tablets by Larnaca court.

    The court heard evidence that the drugs were brought over in condoms swallowed by Michael, who was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking on March 9. X-rays of his stomach showed that foreign bodies had been ingested and he was subsequently detained until the drugs were excreted.

    At the time of his arrest, Michael claimed that the drugs were for personal use and not for re-sale.

    Michael had been previously arrested for drugs possession on May 17, 2001, a fact taken into consideration when sentenced was passed, despite pleas from his legal representatives that he had suffered many personal traumas in his life, including the suicide of his mother in 2000 and having been deserted by his father after he was born.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] High Commissioner takes his bow in Bonn

    By Soteris Charalambous

    BRITISH High Commissioner Lyn Parker and his wife Jane answered a last minute call for help from the Cyprus State Orchestra after several essential members of the group were unable to travel for a performance in Germany last weekend due to illness.

    Parker, who plays the viola, and his wife, Jane, who plays the oboe, are both well known at the Commission for their musical talents.

    The High Commissioner said yesterday that they had "greatly enjoyed the opportunity to take part, and that members of the orchestra made us feel very welcome" at the performance given at the university in Bonn.

    "The State orchestra is a good orchestra. And the concert in Bonn was very well received," Parker added.

    However, according to yesterday's Haravghi, some members of the orchestra expressed annoyance at the choice of the High Commissioner and his wife, and protested at the decision to replace the state musicians with non- Cypriots.

    The Director of Cultural Services Stelios Hadjistillis, who took the decision, justified his choice by saying that because four key members of the orchestra had withdrawn at such short notice he had been left with few options. He added that their participation did not mean Parker and his wife had become honorary members and said their choice had been based on the fact that they could play and were available for the performance at 24 hours' notice.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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