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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-12-09

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Kazamias addresses House Finance Committee on measures
  • [02] Labour MP raises Cyprus issue with Foreign Secretary
  • [03] EU signs Accession Treaty with Croatia
  • [04] Cyprus lags behind in access to information

  • [01] Kazamias addresses House Finance Committee on measures

    The voting of the state budget, the increase of VAT from 15% to 17% and aimed social benefits are the measures included in the first priority of the Government, Minister of Finance Kikis Kazamias said on Friday.

    Kazamias, who attended the meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, which began discussing fiscal consolidation measures, said the VAT increase would come into effect on January 16, 2012, giving companies time to prepare their cash systems.

    He added that after the voting of the bill to freeze salaries in the public sector, the state would save 230 million euros annually.

    The bills on fiscal consolidation, approved by the Cabinet were tabled Thursday. The bills include, inter alia, a freeze of salaries in the public sector for two years, an increase of the tax rate on profits from 17% to 20%, a rise in the standard VAT rate from 15% to 17% and a social dialogue for a more just redistribution of Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).

    These measures were decided during a meeting between the President of the Republic and the political parties last week, after which the Government Spokesman announced that a broad consensus was reached. On August 27 the Parliament approved the first fiscal consolidation package with a fiscal impact of 1% GDP or 180 million EUR, while a bill on the increase of VAT rate to 17% from 15%, which would yield an additional 140 million euro to the state coffers, is pending approval.

    The Cabinet also approved a second fiscal consolidation package, incorporated in the 2012 state budget, which would reduce the budget deficit below the 3 per cent Euro area benchmark (2.8%) in 2012. The package provides for the abolition of 939 vacant positions in the public sector, a 10% reduction of the starting salary of civil servants, the introduction of income criteria for the better targeting of welfare spending such as child allowance and student allowance (100 million EUR).

    On November 18 the Finance Minister introduced a third fiscal consolidation package aiming at restoring Cyprus` credibility in the international markets. The package provides for a freeze of salary increases in the public sector (including COLA) for two years, with a yield of 355 million EUR, a scaled contribution of high earners in the private sector and the introduction of a 0.5% levy on the turnover of companies with local activities for two years.

    According to the EU` new economic governance provisions, Cyprus must take concrete steps for the correction of its public finances. Otherwise a fine of 0.2% GDP will be imposed.

    [02] Labour MP raises Cyprus issue with Foreign Secretary

    British Labour MP Andy Love has said that after Turkish President Abdullah Gul`s visit to London he raised the question to the British Foreign Secretary whether the British government can set up an invitation to the President of Cyprus to come to London and speak with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary about the Cypriot view on the negotiating process and how we can move things forward.

    ``I had an opportunity to question the Foreign Secretary last week. I asked him what move the Foreign Office does to raise Cyprus among the international agenda and following what we were told that it was a very successful visit of the President of Turkey, how important that they can set up an invitation to the President of Cyprus to come to London and speak with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary about the Cypriot view on the negotiating process and how we can move things forward,`` Love told a meeting in the House of Commons.

    ``I can speak,`` he noted, ``on behalf of those colleagues who could not be with you this evening and say they continue to be committed to Cyprus.``

    He said that two conservative MPs also raised questions with the Foreign Secretary and made clear to him that there is widespread cross party support for doing more to try and engage with the Cyprus issue taking the negotiating process to a more positive direction than it has been in recent months.

    [03] EU signs Accession Treaty with Croatia

    Croatia will become the 28th member state of the European Union. Today, the EU Heads of state and governments signed the Accession Treaty of Croatia to the EU. Cyprus is represented at the Summit by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

    The signing ceremony took place in Brussels on the margins of the European Council with the participation of Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Croatian President Ivo Josipovic. The former Yugoslav Republic is expected to become a full EU member as of 1 July 2013.

    In a few weeks, a referendum will take place in Croatia over its EU membership. Although holding an accession referendum is not a requirement for Croatia, Zagreb took the initiative as a sovereign decision. According to a recent opinion poll, 52% of Croats said they would vote in favour of their country`s EU membership.

    The 27 EU member states will also have to ratify the Treaty.

    [04] Cyprus lags behind in access to information

    Cyprus, ``being the only country in the EU not to have either an access to information law or a draft law proposed by the government, lags behind within the EU with regards to a Right to Access to Information Law,`` according to a report titled ``Report and Recommendations on The Right of Access to Information in Cyprus``.

    The report, which was presented at a press conference on Friday, was carried out in 2010 by Access Info Europe, the EU Cyprus Association (KAB) and the Institute for Social-Political Studies (IKME), in the framework of a project on the access to information in Cyprus, which is a two-year bicommunal civil society initiative to promote improvements in government transparency and accountability and to increase public participation in decision making in Cyprus.

    The report also gives a legal analysis of the situation in Cyprus, noting that it is ``complex, as there are some provisions with relate to the right to information, including some provisions that can be exercised by journalists and by those wishing to reuse public sector information in the south.

    ``In the northern part there is a legal norm which is not fully in force because the implementing regulation has not been adopted,`` it points out.

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