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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-09

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

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


Friday, May 9, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] House reduces petrol price and approves driving licences for Turkish Cypriots
  • [02] It’s hot, but it’s not a heat wave
  • [03] Church was top player in 1999 market boom
  • [04] Clerides and Papadopoulos disagree on the way forward
  • [05] Interest rates unchanged
  • [06] Refinery staff strike in protest at loan decision
  • [07] EU stands by bar on Turkish Cypriot exports
  • [08] £3 million spentin occupied areas
  • [09] Police deny resources stretched by checkpoint situation
  • [10] New £4.5 million fire protection plan

  • [01] House reduces petrol price and approves driving licences for Turkish Cypriots

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    PETROL and diesel prices have gone down by 5.8 cents and 3.4 cents a litre respectively as of yesterday when deputies passed a fast-track bill on the reduction of fuel prices through parliament.

    According to the new legislation, the price of all petrol will be reduced by 5.8 cents, bringing unleaded super 98 octane down from 48.6 cents to 42.8 cents a litre while diesel and heating fuel gets reduced by 3.4 cents, down to 30 cents a litre. The reductions and new prices include 15 per cent VAT.

    The new rules were passed by the plenum with 35 deputies voting for and three abstaining.

    Also passed through parliament late yesterday evening was a bill on the registration of Turkish Cypriot vehicles in the free areas and the issuance of a temporary driving licence for Turkish Cypriot drivers. The bill was fast-tracked through parliament due to the level of importance attached to it and was passed with 37 votes for and nine abstentions.

    Under the new legislation, during irregular circumstances, the state may issue a temporary driving licence to a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus who does not live in the government-controlled areas and for a period of time and under such conditions as it chooses.

    In order for Turkish Cypriots to move legally from the occupied north into the free areas with their cars, apart from obtaining a temporary driving licence, they must register their cars here according to the legislation that covers motor vehicles.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [02] It’s hot, but it’s not a heat wave

    By Alexia Saoulli

    ALTHOUGH this is an uncomfortably hot month, we are not having a heat wave, according to Meteorological Department head, Kyriacos Theofilou. However, by Sunday beach lovers can look forward to soaring temperatures of 35 degrees centigrade.

    “No (this weekend) we are not having a heat wave. (But) we will have high temperatures this weekend, with thermometers hitting 35 degrees centigrade on Sunday,” he said.

    Theofilou said temperatures normally averaged around 28 degrees at this time of the month. Yesterday, however, the weathermen recorded temperatures as high as 32 degrees and on Wednesday it was one degree hotter.

    But, this is nothing out of the ordinary it seems, as one third of this month is often forced to endure temperatures in the mid-thirties

    “Statistics, taken from a 10-year period starting in 1991, show that the month of May has an average of 14 days per month with temperatures over 30 degrees; an average of 13 days with temperatures over 32 degrees; and an average of 11 days with temperatures over 34 degrees,” said Theofilou.

    The high temperatures during this period are due to north-easterly hot air masses from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. “These air masses are hot and dry and pass over Cyprus as they move down towards the Gulf,” he said.

    The good news is that this weather is not an indication of an unbearable scorcher of a summer ahead.

    “We can only predict weather for five-day periods,” he said. “There is no direct relation between high temperatures now and a hot summer ahead. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Theofilou added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [03] Church was top player in 1999 market boom

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CHURCH was one of the biggest players on the stock market boom of 1999, profiting to the tune of around £43 million before the bubble burst at the end of that year.

    An interim report from the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE), containing a list of the 1,000 biggest players in 1999, which was published yesterday in Politis, revealed that £3.7 billion in transactions was carried out in 1999, £2 billion of which in August of that year alone.

    The all-share index hit a record high of 800 points in November 1999, when the bubble burst and has since been in freefall. Yesterday, it stood at 89 points but has gone under 70 earlier this year.

    Top buyer was CNH Value Investment, which bought £63.7 million worth of shares, followed by brokers Costas Hadjigavriel and Hellenic Banking Investments, with stock purchases of £60.6 million and £31 million respectively.

    The Biggest sellers were Costas Hadjigavriel with stock sales worth £63.5 million and CNH with sales worth £61.5 million.

    Kykkos Monastery was in sixth place on the list with stock sales worth £21.6 million. The Archbishopric was 28th on the list, selling £10 million worth of shares. Other Church-linked sellers were also listed with sales of under £5 million.

    According to Politis the 1,000 biggest players made a total profit of £1.35 billion, more than the government’s annual revenue from tourism, which accounts for 20 per cent of GDP.

    The newspaper said the list and the interim report would be given to the Internal Revenue Service to track down any possible tax evaders. The Church however is exempted from tax.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [04] Clerides and Papadopoulos disagree on the way forward

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Tassos Papadopoulos and former President Glafcos Clerides yesterday expressed conflicting views on how to approach the resumption of UN-led talks on the Cyprus issue.

    Clerides said the government should ask the UN to send special adviser Alvaro de Soto to the island in order to restart negotiations. He said the proposal would probably be rejected by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and then “the responsibility for no progress will burden him and not our side”.

    The former president said Denktash’s recent goodwill gesture in easing restrictions on freedom of movement was not aimed at finding a solution “but to prove that there are two authorities that can function as legal authorities under a good-neighbour treaty”.

    “?e is trying not to sit at the negotiating table to find a solution but to maintain two entities that will have some sort of good neighbourly agreement, which will gradually help towards recognition of the pseudostate, ” Clerides said

    Papadopoulos yesterday cautioned against premature resumption of the talks, suggesting it might at this stage result in another deadlock.

    He called for the UN plan to be amended in light of recent developments on the island and in view of Cyprus signing he EU accession treaty in Athens last month.

    “What many of our interlocutors are concerned about, and we share these concerns, is the possibility of seeing hasty moves or early initiatives lead the peace effort for the resumption of negotiations to a new deadlock or a new undesirable outcome,” the President said.

    Papadopoulos reiterated his readiness to return to the negotiating table and resume talks on the basis of the Annan plan, which should be adjusted to meet the new circumstances and the latest developments on the island, he said.

    Asked by reporters why he was not taking any initiative for the resumption of the talks, Papadopoulos said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was fully aware of his readiness for negotiations.

    He said sending a letter to Annan urging the resumption of the peace talks would not bring about any change, adding, “everything that needs to be done is being done and the Secretary-general is duly informed.”

    Commenting on the thousands of people crossing between the two sides in the past two weeks, Papadopoulos said the developments have proved that Denktash’s assertion that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not live together was nothing but a myth.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [05] Interest rates unchanged

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CENTRAL Bank kept interest rates unchanged yesterday, but said it was worried about high inflation and a gaping fiscal deficit.

    Headline inflation for April was 5.58 per cent, slowing from a March peak of 5.97 per cent caused by spiralling fuel prices and a cold snap which sapped fresh fruit and vegetable supplies.

    Inflation for the first four months of the year averaged at 5.03 per cent, Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou said.

    “Increases in value added tax from last year and from January are still having an inflationary impact in conjunction with fuel and vegetable prices, ” he told reporters.

    Authorities introduced a raft of tax changes last year to align some sectors to European Union practice. They included reductions in individual tax, a phasing out of imbalances between corporate taxes of offshore and local companies and a five point increase in VAT in two stages to 15 per cent.

    The reforms were partly responsible for a wider than expected fiscal deficit which is seen rising to 3.5 per cent, exceeding one of the tests set by Brussels for adoption of the single currency.

    “Revenue has been less than expected and this is because of the tax reform, ” Christodoulou said.

    The key borrowing rate of the central bank is 4.5 per cent, and 2.5 per cent for deposits. The last adjustment of half a point was made during the US-led war on Iraq which prompted a slump in holiday bookings to the island. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [06] Refinery staff strike in protest at loan decision

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS Petroleum Refinery (CPRL) employees staged a seven-hour strike yesterday against a government decision to pull the plug on upgrading the refinery to EU standards.

    The last government under Glafcos Clerides had promised the refinery would be upgraded to produce sulphur free diesel and unleaded petrol, but at a meeting on Wednesday the cabinet decided to withdraw its guarantees for a 55 million euro loan to carry out the works, saying the loan conditions were unfavourable.

    The decision to stop the upgrading leads to speculation that the refinery would be put out of commission before the island accedes to the EU in May next year, meaning that hundreds of employees will be made redundant.

    The strikers demanded that the government secure their future either by going ahead and upgrading the refinery or by finding them jobs in other sectors in the civil service.

    “The employees are distressed today because the government has taken extreme measures,” said Andreas Erodotou, Secretary of the CPRL Employees’ Union. “Therefore they will strike until 2pm today.

    “There was an agreement between the outgoing government and the Larnaca municipality to upgrade the refinery so that it would operate until 2010 in order to make money to compensate the people.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [07] EU stands by bar on Turkish Cypriot exports

    By a Staff Reporter

    PRODUCTS from the occupied areas bearing the stamp of the illegal authorities cannot be accepted in the European Union according to a European Court decision, the European Commission warned yesterday.

    Commenting on a recent statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that the trade restrictions should be lifted, Jean Christophe Filori, Spokesman for Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, said that there was no community embargo to be lifted.

    Filori noted that what did exist was a European Court decision, according to which the export certificates issued by the unrecognised authorities in the occupied areas could not be accepted because the EU does not recognise these authorities.

    Filori said the products themselves were not embargoed, adding that they could be exported as long as they did not bear the stamp of the authorities in the breakaway regime.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [08] £3 million spentin occupied areas

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    GREEK Cypriots spent £3 million in the occupied areas in 15 days, according to Central Bank Governor, Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    Despite media reports of millions and millions being spent in the north, Christodoulou assured the public yesterday that the amount spent so far did not have any consequences on the economy, but significantly affected the Turkish Cypriot economy due to its size and level of development. He added that Greek Cypriot spending in the north was on the decline. The statistics came from a survey conducted by Cyprus College, commissioned by the Central Bank governor, which covered Greek Cypriot spending on the Turkish Cypriot side from April 23 to May 4.

    Christodoulou said that the movement to and from the occupied north would not provide a solution to the Cyprus problem. However, he highlighted two positive aspects of the developments: the Cyprus pound was establishing itself as the currency in the north, and, “Turkish Cypriots are given the chance to see what kind of hell they live in and what prospects will open up in terms of economy and freedom if the walls created by Ankara fall down”.

    The survey’s findings reveal that Greek Cypriots spent £2.4 million in the north by May 4, with average expenditure across the divide reaching £12 per day. Those who cross to the north spend half their money on transport costs, said Christodoulou. Regarding money spent on accommodation, or in casinos and nightclubs, the governor insisted that the numbers were marginal, concerning only one to two per cent of visitors. He noted, however, that this concerns a group of people that spend a large amount of money per person, “and that causes concern, mainly for social reasons,” he said.

    A continued flow of Greek Cypriot expenditure would have major effects on the Turkish Cypriot economy, he added. “These sums of money are important to the small and troubled economy of the occupied north, whose Gross Domestic Product equals about one twelfth of that in the free areas.” However, the governor maintained that spending was on the decline. “The survey has shown that a significant number of those that have gone to the north do not plan to repeat the journey in the near future,” he said.

    Forty-two per cent of those questioned said they would go back within a week. The desire to return was stronger among those who had already crossed the divide three times or more, but they only counted for 13 per cent of the total number questioned.

    Christodoulou also said that people would spend less each time they go to the north, with refugees spending the least amount.

    Meanwhile, islanders continued their bicommunal travels yesterday, passing through the three checkpoints in a steady flow. By 8pm 5,603 Greek Cypriots and 2,442 Turkish Cypriots crossed the divide between the occupied north and government-controlled areas. Ledra Palace checkpoint proved the most popular crossover point with 2,637 Greek Cypriots and 1,975 Turkish Cypriots passing through. Pergamos checkpoint saw 1,283 Greek Cypriots and 358 Turkish Cypriots cross over while 1,683 Greek Cypriots and 109 Turkish Cypriots passed through Strovilia.

    MONEY SPENT IN NORTH (April 23- May 4)

    Car insurance: £240,000

    Taxi: £430,000

    Fuel: £154,000

    Car rental and buses: £332,000

    Food and drink: £780,000

    Shopping: £226,000

    Hotels: £11,000

    Casinos and nightclubs: £134,000

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [09] Police deny resources stretched by checkpoint situation

    By Alex Mita

    POLICE officers are clocking up the overtime to deal with the unprecedented situation created by the opening up of the checkpoints across the Green Line earlier this month, but yesterday denied fears that criminals might be tempted to a crime spree with police resources stretching thin.

    Police spokesman Demetris Demetriou said yesterday that crime was under control because officers deployed to cover the checkpoints were not from CID or other crime fighting departments.

    “The officers used at the checkpoints come from police headquarters and are not members of the drug squad or the CID,” Demitriou said.

    “Criminals should not be fooled into believing that because of the recent events police have neglected crime fighting.”

    Demetriou said the police had taken the necessary steps to be able to tackle the opening of other checkpoints.

    “If other checkpoints are opened we will assign officers from Limassol and Paphos to those checkpoints,” he said.

    Demetriou said Cypriots crossing to the north were still purchasing illegal duty-free cigarettes and spirits from the occupied areas.

    “We have so far confiscated more than 550 cartons of cigarettes and around 40 bottles of whisky,” Demetriou said.

    Meanwhile, the authorities in the north are telling Turkish Cypriots not to buy Greek or Greek Cypriot products in the south.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika reported that the authorities in the north have erected signs warning Turkish Cypriots crossing over that it is prohibited to purchase Greek products from the free areas.

    A sign erected on the side of the Turkish Ledra Palace checkpoint says: “To the concern of citizens! You are forbidden to purchase and bring back goods originating from the Greek Cypriots or Greece. Example: Greek Cypriot cognac or other original goods”

    “These signs are reminiscent of the 50s ‘From Turk to Turk’ campaign during which Turkish Cypriots caught trading with Greek Cypriots where threatened or beaten,” the paper said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 9, 2003

    [10] New £4.5 million fire protection plan

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    AGRICULTURE Minister Timis Efthymiou marked the closing of Forest Protection Week yesterday by announcing that total expenditure for the implementation of a new National Fire Protection Plan would reach £4.5 million.

    Speaking to reporters, Efthymiou stressed the importance of heightened public awareness during the summer months as part of a national effort to avoid fires, especially given this year’s rainfall and the increased overgrowth of shrubs.

    According to Forestry Department statistics, the last three years saw 74 fires in state forests, burning an area of 734 hectares. During 2000-2002, 298 fires were responsible for razing 11,989 hectares of rural land. The minister said that many fires were caused by people visiting the countryside, but noted how 2002 saw a number of arsonists causing fires.

    Part of the ministry’s new national strategy involves the creation of 112 kilometres of new firebreaks, upgrading 284 kilometres of old firebreaks, building and improving roads, constructing two new water towers and building two helipads.

    Meanwhile, Efthymiou confirmed the government would continue to rent two fire fighting helicopters to support the Fire Service between June and September while offers are currently under review for the purchase of three new helicopters.

    The minister highlighted that changes in the law would help to deter forest fire starters, since an offender will now face up to five years in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.

    Regarding the Akamas peninsula, high-tech fire-tracking equipment will be installed by the Forestry Department using funding by the European Union, as well as electronic surveillance centres stocked with heat sensor cameras. Cyprus is now part of a wide European information system, where facts concerning forest fires are exchanged amongst European countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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