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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-05-27

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, May 27, 1998

Economy takes centre stage

THE ECONOMY was the major story yesterday, although each newspaper reported it from different viewpoints.

A couple of newspapers also persisted with reports about the latest developments in the S-300 missile dispute.

Alithia led with a government decision that all public projects be self-financed. The plan envisages that projects will be financed by private companies, which will then run them for between 15 and 20 years so they can recoup their investment. After this period, the project will return to state ownership.

This procedure was followed in EU countries in an attempt to speed up public works and curtail government spending. A special committee is expected to work out terms and conditions in three months. This method will be used for the construction of the new House and the Nicosia General hospital.

Phileleftheros gave prominence to speeches made at an Economist seminar, of which it is co-organiser.

Government officials said harmonising the Cyprus economy with conditions prevailing in EU countries was a priority, while there were also thoughts about linking the Cyprus pound to the Euro.

The paper quoted the Minister of Finance as saying that Cyprus's economic indicators (unemployment, inflation, balance of payments) compared favourably with those in EU countries. The only exception was the fiscal deficit, which the minister hoped to bring down to the target set by the Maastricht criteria of three per cent of GDP by the year 2000.

Haravghi reported a speech by Akel leader Demetris Christofias, who called on workers to fight against "the designs of capital". He warned that EU harmonisation would scrap all workers' rights, such as the automatic indexing of wages and collective agreements.

He also spoke about the high unemployment rates in European countries (between 10 and 20 per cent) and criticised the government for not creating jobs. He believed there should be shorter working hours and a lowering of the retirement age.

Simerini reported that US State Department envoy Thomas Miller, on his latest visit to Cyprus, had set his sights on the S-300 missiles.

The aims of his visit were to discuss the possible resumption of peace talks and to prevent the deployment of the missiles.

First, he would try to secure an agreement on an overflights ban, which would subsequently enable the US to press for a cancellation of the deployment of the missiles as there would be no need for an air-defence system.

Agon said US efforts were directed at securing a commitment from Greece and Turkey to abide by a prospective Security Council resolution calling for a ban on overflights.

Machi said that a "a large proportion of deputies" were unwilling to support an anti-corruption bill that would force public figures to submit a statement on their personal property.

The anti-corruption bill has been shelved by the Legal Affairs Committee on the grounds that it has too many loopholes.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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