|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-05-30
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Commission proposes series of recommendations for Cypriot economyCyprus` economic activity is expected to contract by 0.8% in 2012, before regaining some momentum in 2013 to reach 0.3% of GDP, according to the European Commission.
In twelve in-depth reviews for those member states, including Cyprus, that were identified as warranting closer inspection in the Alert Mechanism Report earlier this year, the Commission proposes that Cyprus takes additional measures to achieve a durable correction of the excessive deficit in 2012.
The Commission adopted on Wednesday a package of proposals, concluding the second European Semester of economic policy coordination and giving guidance for national policies in 2012-2013.
The policy recommendations of the Commission include guidance on how to address macroeconomic imbalances, according to the new mechanism implemented as part of the so-called 6-Pack legislation.
Once these recommendations are endorsed at the June European Council and formally adopted by the Council of Ministers in July, they will help member states to prepare and adopt their national economic policies and budgets for 2012-2013.
The Country-specific Recommendations are documents prepared by the European Commission for each country, analysing its economic situation and providing recommendations on measures it should adopt over the coming 12 months.
The proposed recommendations for Cyprus 2012 note that in 2012 unemployment is foreseen to increase further to 9.8%.
According to the recommendations, to ensure sound public finances, Cyprus has adopted a series of consolidation measures, committing to the reduction of its fiscal deficit.
Legislation has also been put in place to accommodate, via public intervention, risks to the viability of banks or needs for recapitalisation that cannot be met by market operations. As a response to the economy`s contraction, the government also adopted a wide-ranging package of measure to enhance the country`s growth potential, employment, productivity, and competitiveness.
Measures were taken to reform the pension system and a social dialogue is currently under way regarding the reform of the wage indexation system.
Despite these efforts, it notes, "Cyprus is affected by sizeable and persistent current account deficits, large amount of accumulated private sector debt, widening annual deficits of public finances and the large exposure to Greece of the banking sector". It further indicates that tax collection is marked by inefficiencies that give rise to tax evasion.
In addition, a comprehensive pension reform is needed to address the inherent sustainability as well as adequacy problems of the system, given the high poverty risk among the elderly.
According to the report, the healthcare system is characterised by inequity and inefficiencies.
Unemployment is on the rise, reaching historically high figures, especially for young people and the labour market is characterised by an inadequate supply of skills to match current and future labour demand. Obstacles in the services market and to the provision of professional services remain.
In its recommendations, the Commission proposes that Cyprus takes additional measures to achieve a durable correction of the excessive deficit in 2012. "Rigorously implement the budgetary strategy, supported by sufficiently specified measures, for the year 2013 and beyond to ensure the achievement of the medium-term budgetary objective (MTO) by 2014 and compliance with the expenditure benchmark and ensure sufficient progress with the debt reduction benchmark".
It should also "accelerate the phasing-in of an enforceable multiannual budgetary framework with a binding statutory basis and corrective mechanism" and take measures to keep tight control over expenditure and implement programme and performance budgeting as soon as possible, improve tax compliance and fight tax evasion.
The recommendations propose that Cyprus should harmonise the supervision of the cooperative credit societies in line with the standards applied for the commercial banks and strengthen regulatory provisions for the efficient recapitalisation of the financial institutions in order to limit exposure of the financial sector to external shocks.
It should further improve the long-term sustainability and adequacy of the pensions system and address the high at-risk-of-poverty rate for the elderly, aligning the statutory retirement age with the increase in life expectancy.
Cyprus is also urged to complete and implement the national healthcare system without delay, on the basis of a roadmap, which should ensure its financial sustainability while providing universal coverage.
In addition, Cyprus is asked to improve the skills of the workforce to reinforce their occupational mobility towards activities of high growth and high value added, take further measures to address youth unemployment, with emphasis on work placements in companies and promotion of self-employment and take appropriate policy measures on the demand side to stimulate business innovation.
It is also urged to remove unjustified obstacles in services markets, in particular by improving the implementation of the Services Directive in service sectors with the most growth potential (including tourism) and by opening up the provision of professional services and improve competitiveness including through the reform of the system of wage indexation, in consultation with social partners and in line with national practices, to better reflect productivity developments.
Furthermore, it is urged to take steps to diversify the structure of the economy and redress the fiscal balance by restraining expenditure.
 Cyprus condemns the atrocities in HoulehMinister of Foreign Affairs, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, has condemned the recent killings of civilians in El-Houleh, Syria and called on the Syrian government to immediately implement the provisions of the Annan Plan in its entirety.
In a statement on the killings, Marcoullis said "I wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent atrocities that took place in El-Houleh, which led to the death of more than 90 civilians, including women and young children".
"Cyprus calls upon the Syrian Government to immediately implement the provisions of the Annan Plan in its entirety in order to avoid a full scale sectarian war with spillover effects and unpredictable humanitarian and security challenges for the entire region," she added.
 Governor-General of Australia on an official visit to CyprusGovernor-General of Australia Quentin Bryce arrives Thursday in Cyprus on a three-day official visit.
Bryce, accompanied by her spouse and an Australian delegation, will be received by President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias with whom she will have a tete – a – tete meeting at the Presidential Palace, followed by official talks with the participation of delegations of the two countries.
President Christofias and the Australian Governor-General will then make statements to the press. Later on she will visit the University of Cyprus to meet with a delegation of the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies.
During her visit to the island, Bryce will hold a meeting with President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou and Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II.
 Agriculture Minister briefs EPP group on EU Presidency prioritiesCyprus' EU Presidency priorities in agriculture were discussed here Wednesday at a meeting between Agriculture Minister Sophocles Aletraris and a delegation of the EPP political group, headed by EPP Chairman Joseph Daul.
In statements after the meeting, the Minister expressed satisfaction, saying the group shares many of the Presidency's priorities and proposals. He noted that the Presidency aims at supporting CAP reform, putting emphasis on young farmers, disadvantaged areas, small producers and the simplification of payment procedures.
Moreover, he said he briefed the MEPs on the Presidency priorities on climate change and the protection of water resources. He also informed them about the preparations concerning the Presidency's international commitments on the environment.
Daul noted that CAP reform will be concluded by the end of 2012, if nothing unforeseen happens, and expressed apprehension concerning Europe's food safety. Speaking through an interpreter, the EPP Chairman noted that CAP funds should primarily be in the interest of rural residents and not spent entirely on infrastructure projects, which benefit farmers the least.
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