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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-20

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

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


Friday, December 20, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] House postpones discussion of new billboards bill
  • [02] Police accused over botched car scam raid
  • [03] Parliament scraps employment tax
  • [04] Smokers to pay 10 cents more for a packet
  • [05] Crunch time for local wine industry
  • [06] Building bridges through role playing
  • [07] Bad weather causes ship to run aground

  • [01] House postpones discussion of new billboards bill

    THE House yesterday postponed discussion on the controversial billboard bill for the third time in two months, raising more doubts over its will to ban the thousands of advertising hoardings that litter the roads and pose a hazard for drivers.

    The bill was submitted by Green party deputy George Perdikis, following the withdrawal of a government bill in November.

    The government bill, submitted in November 2001, was withdrawn by Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou after it had become "unrecognisable" from amendments added by deputies.

    The delay in passing the bill has sparked rumours that business interests had influenced deputies' judgements.

    With this in mind, House President Demetris Christofias yesterday urged deputies to watch their behaviour on the issue so as not to give anyone the opportunity to cast aspersions on the chamber.

    "Outside pressure from those with interests should be terminated," Christofias said.

    AKEL deputy Nicos Katsourides echoed Christofias' concerns, while Perdikis said he was saddened by the new postponement of the bill.

    Communications Committee chairman Nicos Pittokopitis said the House had been under fire about the issue for a year and pointed out that the matter had been discussed by deputies seven times.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Police accused over botched car scam raid

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    POLICE and customs officials have been fingered in a report into a botched police investigation during the assembled luxury car scam last September, Phileleftheros reported yesterday.

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides and Police Chief Tassos Panyiotou were unavailable for comment on the issue yesterday.

    According to the paper, the findings of an investigative committee headed by the former president of the Supreme Court, Demetrakis Stylianides, revealed that police and Customs officials were guilty of poor organisation and execution of duties and failure to comply with specific instructions from deputy Attorney-general Clerides.

    Citing reliable sources, the paper said the operation undertaken by police and customs officials against suspects had possible criminal implications and warranted disciplinary action.

    The report was delivered to Cabinet on Wednesday and later passed to Attorney-general Alecos Markides and police chief Panayiotou. Markides will examine the 50-page report before making a final decision on whether it implicates criminal responsibilities. Panayiotou will decide on disciplinary action against police members involved in the operation while the Civil Service Commission will be informed regarding disciplinary action against Customs officials.

    According to the paper, responsibility for the botch-up job also lies with high-ranking police and customs officials. On September 19, police and customs officers raided a car sales yard in Nicosia as part of investigations into the assembled luxury car scam, which rocked the police force, implicating law enforcement and government officials in its web. A discrepancy in the search warrant forced customs officers to return to headquarters to rectify the mistake. Meanwhile, two people were seen burning documents inside the apartment while police waited outside. Despite calls to stop the burning of potential evidence by the deputy Attorney- general, police failed to intervene, citing the absence of a valid warrant.

    The report refers to omissions and negligence on the part of police and customs, while claiming there had been inadequate organisation and insufficient personnel, the paper said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Parliament scraps employment tax

    THE HOUSE of Representatives yesterday voted to abolish the professional tax levied by municipalities and local authorities on people working within their jurisdiction.

    The amendments scrapping the tax come into effect on January 1, 2003 and will deprive local authorities of 14 million in annual income.

    The majority of deputies asked the government to find other ways to support municipalities beyond the 1.5 per cent grant from state income.

    Forty deputies voted in favour of the bill while two - Green party deputy George Perdikis and New Horizons deputy Christos Clerides - chose to abstain.

    Perdikis said the bill took away the right of local authorities to finance themselves, while Clerides said he disagreed with the bill.

    AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou urged the government to honour its promise to find other ways of financing municipalities, while DISY deputy Prodromos Prodromou said it was not proper for local authorities to depend on state budgets.

    The abolition of the tax should not be linked to the state grants, Prodromou added.

    The Chairman of the House Finance Committee, DIKO deputy Markos Kyprianou, suggested that municipalities should put their finances in order, adding that the matter must be discussed before the House.

    Kyprianou stressed that the increase of the state grant from one to 1.5 per cent did not cover the loss from the abolition of the professional tax.

    KISOS deputy Doros Theodorou urged local authorities to manage their finances with prudence, pointing out that 70 to 80 per cent of the municipalities' incomes were spent on salaries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Smokers to pay 10 cents more for a packet

    By George Psyllides

    THE COST of a packet of cigarettes will rise by ten cents as of today following a bill passed by the House plenum last night.

    The hike was part of a series of adjustments passed by the House which also saw a rise in domestic fuel prices, a cut of up to two cents in the price of petrol and a rise in diesel prices of as much as 5.5 cents per litre.

    While the increase in price of cigarettes takes effect from today, a five cent cut in the price of petrol will be applied from January 2. This reduction however will be partly offset by an additional consumer tax - also effective January 2 -- of three cents per litre, thus cutting the actual saving to just two cents.

    Owners of diesel vehicles will be the hardest hit come January 2 as regular diesel will go up by 1.5 cents a litre while low sulphur diesel will cost 28.5 cents a litre, up from the current 28.2 cents. On top of that, the government slapped a consumer tax of four cents per litre on diesel.

    The House also approved a 40 cents increase on gas, increasing the price of a gas cylinder to 2.50. The new gas prices also come into force on January 2.

    From the New Year all vehicle registration fees will increase by 20 per cent. Owners of petrol-fuelled vehicles weighing up to 1,016 kilograms will pay 10 per cent more on road tax, while the tax of heavier vehicles with petrol engines is set to rise by 20 per cent.

    Road tax on diesel vehicles was cut by 10 per cent.

    Consumers are reminded that come January 1, 2003, an additional two per cent is to be added on VAT bringing it up to 15 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Crunch time for local wine industry

    By Nicole Neroulias

    AFTER more than 5,000 years of wine making, the Cypriot viticulture industry must drastically reinvent itself in order to survive in the European Union, officials said yesterday.

    Despite the seven years of agricultural subsidies that come with EU membership, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has said that the Cypriot wine industry is not sufficiently prepared to meet the challenge of competing with duty free, higher quality European wines.

    Annual wine exports from Cyprus - mostly to Western European countries - generate more than 10 million for the Cypriot economy, but the vast majority of it is cheap, bulk wine. This type of wines, along with wine produced by smaller winemakers who lack the funds necessary to upgrade their growing and manufacturing processes, are going to be the hardest hit by EU accession.

    But officials at KEO, Ltd., the largest manufacturer of wine and spirits on the island, view the glass as half full. Anticipating the implications of EU membership, which also call for stricter regulations on origin and labeling of wine bottles, KEO began reinventing itself during the 1990s as a producer of high-quality indigenous wines.

    "If we are going to survive in the European Union, Cypriot viticulture simply must become more professional," said KEO managing director Akis Zampartas. "Vineyards will have to be managed in a very scientific way, to produce the best quality of grapes."

    With this goal in mind, KEO renovated its historic Mallia Vineyard on the western Troodos foothills six years ago, incorporating state of the art technology and planting 80 hectares of indigenous and foreign grape varieties.

    With the proper cultivation and modernisation strategies, Zampartas said he is confident that the Cypriot varieties of mavro, maratheftiko and xynesteri can even compete with the Western European pinot noirs and chardonnays.

    But first, the winemakers must ensure that domestic wines stay afloat amid the impending flood of wines from Bordeaux and Chianti. To this end, winemakers are banking that national loyalty and tourist curiosity will sustain the Cypriot wine industry until it is ready to take its place on Western European tables.

    "It has been proven that in wine producing countries of the EU, the impact of imports on wine is minimal," Zampartas said. "People prefer to drink local wines which go together the gastronomical habits of the country."

    KEO officials are also hedging their bets, however, by acquiring an import division that will cater to those who prefer foreign varieties.

    "Our own wines will be competing with the foreign wines, but if we didn't bring them in, somebody else would," Zampartas said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Building bridges through role playing

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    HOW DO you convince people who are bent on hating each other that they share a common ground? How do you promote social harmony and moral education to an international audience brimming with internal conflict and social dilemmas?

    There is no easy way, but Shamil Fattakhov of Tatarstan in Russia, has found a stepping stone on the right track. Founder and co-ordinator of the training workshops for the ZIPoPo Show, Fattakhov has developed a programme designed to promote moral and ethical behaviour through discussion, responsible attitudes and positive behaviour.

    Adaptable to all ages and social groups, ZIPoPo provides a public forum for group discussions on important and topical issues. Actors perform a short drama, which illustrates a sensitive topic and encourages discussion amongst the audience, allowing long-held beliefs and views to come out in the open.

    Fattakhov's underlying belief that we all have inner talents that can be utilised to learn new issues about ourselves is the basis for the show's aim to provide 'Ethics training through interactive drama'. The very nature of ZIPoPo, including the encouragement of dramatic art (script-writing, acting and directing), allows for instant creative debate to touch on real- life dilemmas, and very often for the first time.

    The show aims to develop consultation in the search for positive solutions, while encouraging dialogue, positive behaviour and moral responsibility in every individual. A driving objective is to force participants to analyse assumptions about right and wrong and develop the courage to think independently.

    The TV format of the show was broadcast for five years in Russia and has been promoted in Europe as a method of building a culture of peace. In 2001, ZIPoPo won the GLOBArt Award for Innovation for peacemaking activities in the Balkans, awarded in Pernegg, Austria. More than 1,500 enthusiasts have been trained to organise and host the show in more than 40 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

    Visiting Cyprus this week to promote the international moral education project and to prepare for next summer's training project offered to theatre groups, drama schools and educational institutions, Fattakhov and his associate, Allen Duncan, spoke to the Cyprus Mail about their experience with ZIPoPo.

    "There needs to be a civilised way to touch on sensitive social issues through effective consultation. When strong opinions clash, this very often brings out a spark of truth, which is much better than having people clash, " says Fattakhov. ZIPoPo touches on many issues, from hatred of minorities to the role of the family and is always directed at solving the problem.

    Fattakhov gave an example of the last seminar conducted under the supervision of the United Nations in Kosovo for participants from both Serbian and Albanian communities. "I and another teacher stayed in a hotel in Kosovo under the protection of UN soldiers and US marines to make a one- week seminar with 30 Serbian and Albanian youths. There are currently troops from five different armies there. Communities are surrounded by barbed wire. If they pull out there will be a lot of bloodshed." The Albanians and Serbian adolescents had to be brought to the heavily guarded hotel with military escorts. "There were kids with their lips shaking when they arrived. They were physically scared," he said. Within the group, Fattakhov explained, he had former members of both opposing armies. "One came up to me and said, 'don't worry, I have a kitchen knife and I will protect you if necessary'. And these were the brightest children that were chosen for the seminar."

    As the week progressed and dramas were performed, homework was given for scripts on sensitive issues, the group soon found that they had little time for suspicion, fear and hatred. Scripts were written about moral values, personal responsibility, tolerance, violence and religious prejudices. "During the week, they were happy working together. They were kept busy all the time, working on really important issues and being creative. When it ended and they had to part outside the hotel, they hugged, kissed and cried. And you cannot fake crying - that's real." One UN official witnessed the scene and said, "We have spent three years and millions of dollars on bridge-building, and you did this for a couple of thousand!"

    A similar seminar in Romania started off with one man standing up and saying, "I hate gypsies". By the end, he apologised and said that he had made a mistake.

    "It brings people together, and pushes for a positive solution. Very often I have a problem that I can't solve. I suggest it as a topic and then get 75 people discussing it and giving amazing feedback, analysis and understanding."

    Fattakhov and Duncan will be back in Cyprus next summer to train interested parties but also hopes to start a ZIPoPo group in schools as well so that children get a chance to discuss and solve present-day dilemmas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Bad weather causes ship to run aground

    BAD weather yesterday caused a ship to run aground off Limassol while two airplanes were diverted from Larnaca airport to Paphos because the runway was flooded from torrential rain.

    Strong waves forced the merchant ship Lisa Star to run aground just off the Limassol coast though no injuries were reported among its12 crew.

    Many of the town's areas were left without electricity yesterday morning after power lines were cut by falling trees and other objects blown away by the strong winds.

    Power lines in the Ayia Phyla area were cut after the collapse of scaffolding at the construction site of an electricity authority building.

    Falling trees blocked the Limassol to Fasouri road for an hour while traffic problems were experienced in the district's mountain region from falling rocks.

    The fire service scrambled in numerous occasions to pump water from flooded dwellings as well as to free stranded drivers.

    A similar situation was encountered by Larnaca fire fighters, while power cuts were experienced at the villages of Kiti, Tersephanou and Lefkara.

    The two planes that were diverted to Paphos later returned to Larnaca as conditions improved.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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