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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-28

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

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


Friday, June 28, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] House delays final vote on tax package
  • [02] Bases in 540 million 25-year building project
  • [03] Environment: It's time to move on to implementation
  • [04] Expense accounts increased
  • [05] Could AremisSoft executives face trial in Cyprus?
  • [06] New Turkish air violations 'undermining talks'
  • [07] More arrests expected in family sex abuse case
  • [08] News in brief

  • [01] House delays final vote on tax package

    By George Psyllides

    THE HOUSE yesterday approved a three per cent rise in VAT and agreed to scrap the defence levy, but last minute horse-trading caused the postponement of the vote on the rest of the government's comprehensive tax reform until Monday.

    According to the bill that was passed last night, VAT will go up from 10 to 13 per cent on Monday, July 1.

    The bill also provides for a further two per cent increase in VAT from January 1, 2003, bringing it into 15 per cent and in line with EU norms.

    The plenum also unanimously scrapped the two per cent defence levy currently paid by employees, pensioners and the self-employed, though companies will continue to pay the levy until January 1, 2003.

    Earlier yesterday, the House had decided to postpone its vote on the fiscal package to allow time for all deputies to be briefed and for the government to calculate the cost of last-minute changes forced by the opposition.

    But in a formal request to House President Demetris Christofias, Finance Minister Takis Klerides asked the House to vote for the VAT and defence provisions yesterday for "practical and technical reasons".

    Christofias told the plenum the parties had unanimously agreed that the rest of the tax reform package would be discussed in an extraordinary plenary session on Monday at 9am.

    The delay was caused at the 11th hour after main opposition party AKEL, backed by socialist KISOS, tabled a series of further compensatory demands, which they attempted to thrash out with the government on Wednesday.

    The demands referred to pensions, interest relief, the defence levy for the self-employed, benefits for large families and child benefits.

    The last two were discussed yesterday, though initial reactions from the association of large families were not positive and could spell the beginning of organised demonstrations.

    Once passed, the package will provide an increase in the tax-free ceiling from the current 6,000 to 9,000.

    Thereafter tax will be deducted at the rate of 30 per cent on salaries between 9,000 and 12,000 and 40 per cent beyond that.

    Come January 1, 2003, the tax-free ceiling will remain at 9,000 but the tax rate will be reduced to 20 per cent between 9,000 and 12,000 and 30 per cent thereafter.

    In January 2004, the tax-free ceiling will rise to 10,000 and tax will be deducted at the rate of 20, 30, and 40 per cent for every additional 5, 000.

    The tax package will also eliminate the disparity between tax rates for local and offshore companies, introducing a common 10 per cent rate.

    Local companies are currently taxed at a rate of 20 to 25 per cent while offshore firms only have to pay 4.25 per cent, a practice the EU says is unacceptable.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Bases in 540 million 25-year building project

    By Jean Christou

    THE BRITISH bases yesterday presented their requirements for the construction of new accommodation for their personnel to six local and international consortiums.

    'Project Aphrodite' is a multi-million pound 25-year project to provide accommodation for service personnel in the bases. The estimated value of the housing project is in the region of 540 million. "This is in addition to the 198 million the bases already contribute to the Cyprus economy," a statement said.

    At yesterday's meeting in Limassol, contractors who had already expressed an interest were told that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in London had already given its approval for Aphrodite to begin in earnest.

    The contractors were updated on the requirements of the project and given documentation to come up with solutions.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need told the Cyprus Mail that the project would involve the creation of 1,700 married quarters and 1,300 single quarters. He said the project did not involve only the construction phase but also the running and maintenance of the housing.

    He said that in some cases existing housing would be upgraded and in others accommodation would be built from scratch. "Some of the housing here dates from the late fifties to early sixties," Need said. "They will have to build to certain standards or refurbish. It will be up to the bidders to put forward their ideas." The housing capacity will be approximately the same as it is now, Need said.

    He said once the bases received the feedback from the consortiums involved, they would issue an invitation to tender. "The bidding process will be announced in time to allow the consortiums to come in by 2005," Need said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Environment: It's time to move on to implementation

    By Jean Christou

    EUROPEAN Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom yesterday urged Cyprus to forge ahead with the implementation of EU legislation on ecological issues.

    Addressing a joint news conference in Nicosia with Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous, Wallstrom said there were 300 European legal acts on environmental issues, which posed a big challenge for candidate counties.

    "I don't come with a heavy bag of problems which makes it easier," said Wallstrom on the first day of a two-day visit. "We would like to see the Cyprus government keep up the good work, but that doesn't mean there are no problems," she added referring to a long list of challenges presented by Cypriot non-governmental organisations. "It's time to move to the implementation," she said..

    Wallstrom said Cyprus, which closed negotiations on the its environment chapter last July, had asked for a couple of transition periods with regard to industrial pollution and water waste management.

    She also said it was crucial for the tourism sector in Cyprus, the mainstay of the economy, to realise the need for environmental protection and to move towards sustainable development.

    "Economic development and the environment can go hand in hand," Wallstrom said adding that the water and waste problems would continue to pose a big challenge for Cyprus.

    "The areas for a transition period have to do with air pollution and also industrial pollution, prevention and control," she said. "This is something where new technologies will have to be installed."

    Referring to the environmentally sensitive Akamas peninsula on the island's western coast, where local landowners are pressing the government for development in the face of strong opposition from greens, Wallstrom said the EU was waiting on the government to designate the area before it could take the next step. "We anticipate the government will act on existing legislation taking into account the acquis communautaire," Wallstrom said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Expense accounts increased

    THE HOUSE yesterday approved the proposed increases in the expense allowances of the President, the House President and the reduced allowances for government ministers.

    According to the finance ministry the annual budget concerning state officials expense allowances would now be increased to around 130,000 from the previous 71,428.

    President Glafcos Clerides' annual income, including expenses -- 12,000 -- would now reach 59,848 with House President Demetris Christofias pocketing 52,204, including 10,000 in expenses.

    The government bill provided ministers' expense allowances to be increased by 3,700 to 8,350 per year even though the House Finance Committee had slashed this to 1,850. Ministers would be now making 44,504, which includes 6,450 in the form of tax-free expenses.

    Deputies receive 29,692 per year with an 8,351 expense allowance.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Could AremisSoft executives face trial in Cyprus?

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE U.S. government could request that the trial of the two former AremisSoft executives, Lycourgos Kyprianou and Roys Poyiadjis, allegedly involved in a massive fraud scheme in America, should take place in Cyprus before a Cypriot court, Alithia claimed yesterday.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides said on Tuesday after American prosecutors confirmed their intention to seek the extradition of the two men that the Cyprus constitution did not allow the extradition of Cypriot nationals.

    According to Alithia, deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides explained the US authorities would have to supply all the evidence that had been gathered against the two and witnesses would have to take the stand to state their case. Clerides highlighted the difficulty involved in such a task, given the differences between the rules of evidence that apply in the USA and Cyprus, adding that the charges brought against the two would have to constitute a crime in the eyes of Cypriot legislation.

    Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Marios Clerides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, "Although our laws are based on British law, the rules of evidence in Britain have since changed, whereas Cypriot law has remained the same."

    He went on to confirm, "We have investigated the actions of Kyprianou and Poyiadjis in the Cyprus market and sent our findings to the Attorney- general for possible criminal proceedings." The chairman said that if proceedings were started, they would run parallel with any possible trial concerning the American case.

    Kyprianou, Poyadjis and a third man M.C. Mathews, were indicted on Tuesday on charges of insider trading, money laundering and various counts of fraud. If tried and convicted, the first two would face up to 20 years in prison under US law.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] New Turkish air violations 'undermining talks'

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT is to would protest fresh violations of the Nicosia FIR (Flight Information Region) by Turkish aircraft, spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Papapetrou said such actions were "unacceptable", especially at a time when peace talks were taking place. He said the violations undermined the spirit that should prevail at the negotiations.

    On Wednesday, two Turkish reconnaissance R-F4 and two F4 jets violated Nicosia FIR.

    "These are unacceptable actions, and as always, we protest to the UN and other international organisations," Papapetrou told his daily press briefing.

    "Such actions are not only unhelpful but they also undermine the atmosphere that needs to prevail at the talks in order to help the two sides come to compromises," he added.

    The Greek and the Turkish Cypriot sides have been engaged in direct talks since mid January with a view to finding a comprehensive settlement. The talks are now facing a deadlock because the Turkish Cypriot side insists on the creation of two separate states on the island. The last meeting in the current round of talks takes place today, but talks will continue after UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto returns from New York next month.

    "The last meeting in the context of this round of direct talks will take place on July 2. After that, De Soto will go to New York to brief the Security Council on the course of the negotiations," Papapetrou said.

    He said the talks would resume on July 12 and continue along their normal pattern of two weekly meetings.

    Replying to questions, Papapetrou said the government had no information about the form De Soto's briefing to the Security Council would take.

    Speculation is rife that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan does not intend to present a written report on his good offices in Cyprus, as is normal practice.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] More arrests expected in family sex abuse case

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    POLICE said yesterday they were expecting to make more arrests after Nicosia District Court remanded a 35-year-old man in custody in connection with a case involving sexual abuse of a mentally handicapped man in Evrychou village.

    The man was placed under suspicion after the arrest of his alleged accomplice, a father initially charged with assault on a minor, but who then alerted police to several alleged cases of sexual abuse against his 25- year-old mentally handicapped son.

    Georgios Georgiou, Head of CID Morphou, confirmed yesterday that the father had now been charged with sexual abuse against his mentally handicapped son after initially being arrested for assault against his nine-year-old daughter last week.

    His wife and daughter first reported the father's beatings to the police. Further investigation revealed that the father had allegedly confessed to having sex with his mentally handicapped son, along with other members of the village.

    Georgiou said yesterday that police were waiting for medical reports to come through on the two charges and expected more arrests to follow from the ongoing investigations.

    The police will be requesting a re-remand for the father in court today.

    Reports yesterday said the son was also a carrier of hepatitis, but Georgiou could neither confirm nor deny the claims before receiving medical reports first.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] News in brief

    Suspected burglars detained

    TWO LIMASSOL youths were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with 25 burglaries that were perpetrated in just 20 days fetching 2,000 in stolen property.

    Police initially detained a 16-year-old boy from Ayios Athanassios in connection with a burglary of a shop on June 7.

    According to reports the boy admitted the offence and named a 19-year-old man, also from Ayios Athanassios as his accomplice.

    The 19-year-old was questioned by police and after allegedly admitting being involved in the June 7 burglary, confessed that together with the boy they had broken into 25 places between May 22 and June 25.

    The youths had targeted kiosks, flower shops, video arcades, kebab shops, supermarkets, and fish markets, allegedly stealing around 2,000 in cash and other property.

    None of the stolen goods have been recovered.

    Special constable arrested

    A 30-YEAR-OLD former police special constable was yesterday arrested after Limassol CID officers investigating a separate case allegedly found justice ministry stamps and special constable identity cards in his home.

    The former constable, who had been sacked from the force, claimed he made the identities for the fun of it and that none have been circulated.

    Police however are treating this as a very serious case as the identities were ready to use, even bearing the fingerprints of the would-be holder.

    Only one had a name and a photograph, which the suspect apparently made for himself, reports said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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