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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-30

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, June 30, 2002


  • [01] Parents of large families 'could lose out badly'
  • [02] UN 'would take robust action' if Pyla road entered buffer zone

  • [01] Parents of large families 'could lose out badly'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    LARGE families and trade unions said yesterday they will lose out heavily if the House of Representatives goes ahead tomorrow and imposes restrictions on child benefits in relation to their parents' annual income.

    The government's decision to introduce restrictions on child benefits based on their parents' earnings is "unacceptable because it is an unfair and inefficient system", the President of the Large Families Organisation, Demos Pissourios, told the Sunday Mail yesterday.

    "Presently all families are given a tax-free allowance of 500 a year per child," he said. "Now the House Finance Committee has suggested that this amount be abolished and instead each family be given grants according to parents' joint annual income and how many children they have. However, over and above a certain income, no grants will be handed out."

    At present large families not only benefit from tax-free allowances, they are also given 31.35 per child per month. For an average four-child family this works out at 1870.20 per year, including bonuses.

    The new law proposes that large families that earn over 40,000 will stand to gain nothing. On the other hand families with four or more children that earn less than 18,000 will be granted 2,600 per year.

    According to one large family parent, Angelos Angelis, this might sound fair in theory, but in practice it most certainly is not.

    "I know a paediatrician who earns an average of 43,000 a year. The problem is she has eight children, and as of Monday she will stand to lose out on 3,740.40 a year in benefits she used to receive. Can you imagine the expenses involved in bringing up eight children? How is she expected to do so without benefits?"

    "Then take self-employed individuals for instance, or people with a lot of money in the bank who make interest on it. They may only state they earn less than 18,000, when in reality their income is much larger. They will be benefiting the most and yet need it the least," Angelis said.

    "The Finance Committee did not carry out a thorough study involving the pros and cons of this proposal," he added. "They merely threw a few figures in the air and decided to push forward with them. This is absolutely ridiculous, since nowhere else in Europe are families restricted from benefits because of their annual incomes."

    According to Pissourios, there are 13,000 large families that benefit from child benefits today. At least 30-35 per cent of these families will be financially burdened if the new law is passed tomorrow, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] UN 'would take robust action' if Pyla road entered buffer zone

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNITED Nations has increased the presence of peacekeepers in the Pyla area to keep an eye on a contentious road being built by the Turkish Cypriots close to the buffer zone.

    Tension rose in the mixed village last week when the construction work was discovered, with Greek Cypriot residents fearing the road was a ploy by the Turks to gain easy access to the village.

    UNFICYP sources confirmed yesterday that there was "no way" the road was for civilian use only, and that the force would take "robust" action if it went any further.

    A second UNFICYP source told the Sunday Mail that his latest information was that the road was just 300 metres short of the buffer zone.

    "The road is not in the buffer zone. There is no road being built in the buffer zone, nor are we considering such," said the source adding that it was not UNFICYP's mandate to interfere with works being carried out in the north "until such time as it looks as if it might be going into the buffer zone".

    "When a road looked liked it might be doing that, we drew it to their attention and stated the obvious," the source said. "Last I heard it was 300 metres or so short of the buffer zone and looked as if it might be heading into the buffer zone, so then you ask 'excuse me, sir, but where might that road be going?'."

    The source said UNFICYP was having discussions with the local authorities in Pyla on the possible improvement of dirt tracks for residents who need to access farms and grazing areas, in addition to keeping a close eye on the controversial road. Additional peacekeepers are also present in the area. Pyla is under the control of UNFICYP civilian police rather than military peacekeepers.

    "Clearly we move around in the buffer zone. We do patrols and so it is possible someone observed that we had additional peacekeepers spending a little more time in the area than usual, but they're not in Pyla," the source said. "They are keeping things under observation and that's a kind of reassurance to anyone who is a bit nervous, but it also makes it very clear we take seriously the business of maintaining the status quo as it applies to the buffer zone."

    The government said last week that the Turkish side was seeking an alternative route into Pyla because they have to pass through British Bases territory to get to the village, but that the new road cannot lead to Pyla without violating the buffer zone.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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