Daily Press Review - 9/12/2019

ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ NEWS Δημοσιεύθηκε 9.12.2019
Daily Press Review - 9/12/2019
The use of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly spreading over the last few years, especially among young people

This year’s five biggest Christmas fairs in Cyprus


Hellenic Bank presents Nicosia’s Winter Wonderland 2019. For the fifth consecutive time the capital is ready to welcome our favourite Winter Wonderland, with new, modern, impressive games and free entrance for all.



Millions spent on court buildings

The development costs for the Cyprus Judiciary amount to €6.5m, which include four sums for Nicosia’s new courthouse, new courts and other structures envisaged by the restructuring. The article breaks down the judiciary’s costs included in the 2020 state budget, and reports that the capital’s new courthouse will cost €70m and its completion is expected by 2024. It’s also noted that the agreement to use the Limassol building formerly used by Hellenic Bank in order to house the new Commercial and Shipping court is finalised, and the courts will begin operating in 2020.



House approved €681.5m for 11 SGOs

Yesterday, the house approved a total €681.5m budgets for 11 semi-governmental organisations (SGOs), completing to a large degree the re-evaluation of budgets for organisations of the wider public sector for 2020. They also authorised organisations that haven’t had their budgets approved yet to take expenditures for the month of January to avoid any inconveniences.



20% tax exemptions for insurances and welfare funds

The House unanimously voted for a bill which increases the rate of tax-exempt spending for health insurance, life insurance, social security, pension and welfare funds from 1/6 of income to 1/5 that it is today.



Moody’s: Warns about the global banking system

Moody’s Investors Services downgraded its outlook for global banks to negative from stable due to slower economic growth, low interest rates and more volatile operating conditions. For Cyprus, Moody’s cautions banks over the limited success of the “ESTIA” scheme. According to Moody’s estimations half of the NPLs chosen for “ESTIA” are held by BoC, Hellenic Bank or Housing Finance Corporation (HFC). Organisations such as KEDIPES which are not banks, hold the other half. Reportedly, Hellenic Bank has received only 100 applications for the scheme out of €290m potentially eligible NPLs, meaning only around 8% of borrowers who were initially identified as potentially eligible.



Hellenic Bank: Constant focus in customer service

A special feature dedicated to timeless companies. The Hellenic Bank group began its operations in 1976. Today it’s one of the top financial institutions in Cyprus. 2018 was a significant year for Hellenic Bank because it acquired assets and responsibilities from the former Co-op, establishing the bank as the largest retail bank in Cyprus. Hellenic Bank is at the forefront of financing the development of the island’s most important industries. It’s success is based on its customer-centric approach, the wide range of competitive products and services and the use of state-art systems.



Common challenges

An opinion articles writes that despite having common challenges, the management of each bank chose a different approach on how to deal with the association of bank employees, such as reducing the cost of expenditure and returning them to steady profitability. The new management of Bank of Cyprus (BoC) is expected to grant Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to all of its employees, as well as the 2019 annual increase, so as to avoid a clash with ETYK. All of the financial institutions (such as Alpha Bank, AstroBank, JCC etc.), with the exception of Hellenic Bank, have given their employees the annual increase and COLA. However, Hellenic Bank gave increases to its employees based on each employee’s efficiency and productivity.

 

European Banking Authority: Improvement but challenges remain

Drawing a general conclusion from important EBA data, it’s easily inferred is that the Cypriot banking industry marked an improvement for the majority of indicators, but some still remain the same, which should concern the Banking Departments. The overall picture is that indices for NPLs and profitability have improved significantly, while banking costs remain particularly high in terms of payroll. The size of the Cypriot banking sector in relation to the number of employees remains high and this seems to be the biggest challenge for the next few years.



Surplus exceeding €1b

The latest Cystat data show a €1.066m surplus, which is equivalent to 4.9% of the GDP, in comparison to the €626.4m shortage of the respective previous year period January-October. This great sum is expected to facilitate the new FinMin’s efforts in reducing state’s debt.



Full steam ahead with e-auctions

The banks and asset purchasing companies are moving full steam ahead with e-auctions, with the online platform’s first auction set to take place on Wednesday. Specifically, auctions have been scheduled for 299 properties with a total value of around €51.4m. Auctions for another 27 properties worth €5m have also been uploaded to the platform. To begin with, the auctions will be carried out with the old as well as the new method, and then they will gradually all be moved to the new online platform. According to research by Haravgi, the vast majority of properties expected to be auctioned off in the coming days are of small to medium value. In fact, the list includes residential properties that appear to meet the criteria of the Estia scheme. Indicatively, of the 299 properties, 213 (or 71.2%) are being put to auction with a reserve price of up to €100,000. Two of the properties are without a reserve price, while another seven begin at below €1,000. Another 42 properties have a reserve price of between €100,000 and €200,000 (14%), while eight are priced between €200,000 and €300,000 (2.7%). Only 36 properties (12%) have a reserve price of over €300,000. As for the e-auctions, four have been scheduled so far. The first will take place on Wednesday, 18 December, and it involves 19 properties by Gordian Holdings. State asset management company KEDIPES will follow on 30 December with four properties, then Hellenic Bank on 10 January 2020 with a large property which has a reserve price of €777,000. Gordian Holdings will hold another auction with six properties on 31 January. It is noted that all the properties that have been scheduled to be auctioned off are plots of land and farming plots.



It’s neoliberalism, idiot!

Opinion editorial by reporter Demetra Landou on the completion of Harris Georgiades’ term as Finance Minister. She says among other that Georgiades was accused and blamed for government policies, perhaps more than any other minister. He was blamed for closing state carrier Cyprus Airways, the Cyprus Co-operative Bank, for attempting to privatise the semi-government organisations and for arranging to appoint friends in high places (such as Constantinos Herodotou as the Privatisations Commissioner, Irena Georgiadou at Hellenic Bank and Nicos Hadjiyiannis at the Co-op). Georgiades’ steadfast excuse was that he was following government policies, and that the sacrifices to fix the economy were a joint effort and collective battle. However, this is being doubted by the majority of people; the people who suffered from the economic crisis, who blame Georgiades personally.



Hellenic Bank is educating its customers

Hellenic Bank (HB) announced that it has launched a series of seminars to brief its customers on the digital services it offers. The bank said the first seminars took place in some of its outlets in Nicosia and Limassol, where staff briefed customers on all the digital means at their disposal such as Web Banking and the Mobile App in addition to ΑΤΜs. The seminars aim to familiarise the bank’s customers with its digital services so they can receive a faster and better service and also take advantage of all the benefits that new technologies offer, the bank said. The educational afternoon, Hellenic Bank said, was the first in a series of actions planned to reduce the gap created by rapid technological evolution among members of the public who have digital skills and those who have not yet acquired such skills, especially the elderly. The bank plans on organising more seminars for its customers also in the other districts.

 

Excessive charges on housing loans

The banks are offering low interest rates for housing loans to lure customers in, but then increasing other related fees, such as the cost of research, management, preparation of documents, guarantees and so on, according to research by Haravgi. Indicatively, it says, for a loan worth €200,000, the additional fees are around €1,720 a year or around €143. According to Central Bank data, the banks reduced their interest on housing loans in October from 2.13% a month before, to 2.08%. However, they also increased their annual percentage rate (APR) to 2.94%, from 2.84%. So even though the interest rate was reduced, borrowers are paying more.

 

 

 

The 200-euro “mansions” at auction

The claims that only expensive mansions are being foreclosed are not true, Haravgi comments. Research by the paper has found that the vast majority of properties being put to auction are of a low or medium value. Some of the properties up for auction in the coming days have reserve prices of €240, €400, €440, and €470. This means that even if the properties are sold, the administrative cost for the banks will most likely be higher. Despite all this, the banks prefer the auctions over restructuring loans based on the borrowers’ real capabilities. This, says the paper, must be the reason why the Estia scheme has failed.

 

Bank of Cyprus-Rotos Group super-deal!

Bank of Cyprus has sold the Gladstone Residence project in the heart of Nicosia to the Rotos Group for €10m, according to exclusive information obtained by INBusinessNews. The half-finished project borders Prodromou Avenue and the Pedieos river. The initial plans provided for the construction of six apartment blocks with a total number of 26 flats, four luxury mansions and an underground car park, over a total area of 8,082 square metres.

 

 

Action plan for sustainable finance

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published its Action plan on sustainable finance outlining its approach and timeline for delivering mandates related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The Action plan explains the EBA’s sequenced approach, starting with key metrics, strategies, risk management and moving towards scenario analysis and evidence for any adjustments to risk weights. The Action Plan also aims to communicate key messages on the EBA’s policy direction and the expectations from financial institutions on areas where action is needed now to support the move towards more sustainable finance in the EU.



Were they passing them over to us?

An article in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung refers among other to Malta’s banking system, noting that when the country joined the Monetary Union, the Maltese wanted to combine European law with the British banking tradition. “And thus, Malta became the headquarters for the subsidiaries of many auditing firms that operated more favourably (when it came to taxation) than their headquarters in London. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) had for a while been saying that they would be passing their non-transparent Russian investors over to Cyprus,” said the esteemed newspaper. Alithia newspaper wonders in a commentary, were they passing their non-transparent Russian investors over to us?

 

The measures are bringing results

The measures Cyprus has taken in recent years against money-laundering have had results. The Advisory Authority for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing said in an announcement that the European Council’s MONEYVAL committee’s assessment of Cyprus has been generally positive. The authority said the committee’s report “acknowledges the measures that have been taken and implemented in Cyprus, both precautionary as well as repressively”. It adds that the report includes a number of recommendations to further reinforce existing measures. The report, it said, will be made public as soon as its content has been finalised.

 

Challenges for 2020 with the budget

MPs see challenges in 2020, according to the House Finance Committee’s report on the 2020 state budget. Some committee members acknowledge the improvement the Cyprus economy made in 2019, what with the steady positive growth rate and the improvement in finances and social indicators. They also acknowledge that the 2020 budget is characterised by fiscal discipline, while also supporting growth, reduced unemployment, de-escalation of the public debt and the creation of safety buffers. Some MPs note the positive course of the economy and the 2020 budget, while also noting the need to take measures and actions to make achieving the goals that have been set feasible. Others, however, are of the view that the performance of the economy and the improvement of social indicators, as these have been presented by the relevant ministry, do not correspond with reality and therefore the 2020 budget is not in line with the real needs of society, sustainable growth and the economy in general. Committee members have stressed, among other: the need to incorporate measures to protect the economy from external factors; the need to update the structure of the state budget; the need to take measures to further improve the social indicators and avert social imbalances; the need to substantively deal with NPLs while also ensuring the protection of primary residence and small business; and the correction, to the extent possible, of the general consequences of the 2013 crisis.



On reform and government policy

In an article by Stefanos Stefanou of the opposition party AKEL, discussing the recent government restructuring and government policy in general, including the economy, he refers to the Limassol port privatization as well.  The article states that despite the fact that privatization of the Limassol Port has reduced state revenue and caused problems, the government continues to insist on its policy of public wealth. Its target remains the Telecommunications Authority Cyprus which this year presents increased profitability despite fierce competition in the field of telecommunications.

 

Cyprus a regional tourism player

Cyprus has all the assets to become a regional player in tourism sector, Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios noting that, the Ministry will start efforts to promote thematic trips from 2020 onwards. The Deputy Minister of Tourism visited the Celestyal Crystal Cruise ship belonging to Louis Group that adds Cyprus to its seven-day itinerary. He further assured that the whole team at the Deputy Ministry is at the disposal of cruise companies noting that 2020 will begin with thematic package excursions that will help the tourism in the entire island and not just Limassol. It is noted that the number of Louis Group cruises will triple in 2020, resulting in an increase of the number of passengers arriving at the Limassol port and it is estimated that 12,000 passengers are expected to arrive in the off-season period.

 

Under threat of lawsuits the ‘stormy’ Limassol Port agreement

The new contract signed about a year ago between the Cyprus Port Authority and a private company for the installation and operation of a floating tank and yard in the Limassol port area seems to be encountering difficulties. According to reports, the manager of the former contractor (FAMA / FAMALIFT), which has been active in the Limassol Port area for many years, specifically since 1974, intends to proceed with the filing of lawsuits, alleging that the binding terms of the agreement have been violated, including the provision of down payment of half a million due to him.

 

The indifference of the EU is frightening

Athens and Nicosia are once again pushing their allies on Eastern Mediterranean. The positive feedback from Cyprus’ and Greece’s partners as far as Turkey's actions are concerned does not appear to be enough to cope with the crisis caused by Ankara in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and this is what scares both Nicosia and Athens, the indifference on the part of the European Union both as an institution and as a member state to express a more serious interest in the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean. At today's Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union, both Nicos Christodoulides and Nikos Dendias will push again our European partners to show greater interest on Turkey’s actions in the region as Turkey’s signing of the Libya agreement is not just a bilateral issues concerning Greece and Cyprus but a European issue.



AKEL: Energy matters to promote solution

AKEL Neoclis Syllikiots said that energy outlook can promote to a solution. As Cyprus has indicated, it has every reason to strive for regional cooperation with all states in the region and to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships to promote respect for international law and peace to the benefit of natural wealth of the peoples of the region. He pointed out, however, that this is far from the perceptions and illusions that the Anastasiades government systematically preaches that the trilateral or military cooperation with Israel and US will shield the EEZ or that Cyprus has become the ‘geopolitical master of the Mediterranean’. He said reality is different and Turkey is taking advantage of the unresolved Cyprus problem, and suggests that Cyprus should not accept Turkish claims that are not based on international and maritime law, nor the aggressive apprehensions of the occupying forces.



The EEZ war in the eastern Mediterranean

Turkey upon realization where things are moving in the energy sector, has devised a strategic plan and called it ‘Blue Homeland’. The EEZ war in the Eastern Mediterranean is not an easy task and there will be many battles over the next few decades. Turkey will try to use its military force, but the real winner will be the one that tries to neutralize its military advantage and interconnect the national interests with the network of international interests of the region into a total power greater than Turkey. The author goes on to suggest that Cyprus and Greece should proceed with: 1)immediate installation of drilling equipment in lot 12 in cooperation with Israel and Egypt and the American company Noble; 2)  Immediate conclusion of an EEZ agreement between Greece - Cyprus - Egypt under the law of the sea, and many others.



Yenisafak: Third drilling ship the answer from Turkey

Turkey is stepping up its efforts to buy a third drilling rig, according to the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper, which says that Turkey’s is aiming towards Norwegian companies from where it bought the Fatih and Yavuz floating drills. According to the Yeni Safak headline, "Third drilling ship, the new move", Turkey is preparing for the purchase of a new drilling ship while at the same time it is proceeding with staff training at a national level for staffing the new drilling ship. The same sources also indicate that national production of drill ships is planned by Turkey as well so that it is not dependent on foreign sources.



A €30m project will be developed near Limassol casino

Citrus Gardens Development Ltd will conduct a study for the construction of a housing development in Limassol, very close to the casino. The project will be named Sunset Gardens. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment Study (MEEP) the project will include 130 apartments in high-rise buildings of up to 4 stories high, private parking lots and complementary amenities such as pools, a playground and more. As it comes to the apartments, these will be divided in two- and three-bedroom apartments and will have covered parking spaces, while they are designed according to the highest standards. The common facilities will include a tennis court, a half size basketball court, parking spaces for the residents and visitors, pools for training and pools for entertainment, outdoor barbecue spaces and a gym. The project will have a total 167 parking spaces, 10 of which will be for disabled people. The main shareholder of the project is Citrus Gardens Development Ltd and project’s estimated cost is €30m (around €29,388,582). Construction is expected to begin within 2020 and will be completed by the end of 2022. The proposed development is being carried out in the framework of the Limassol Masterplan and is situated within the Tserkezoi (Tserkez Tsiflik) administrative boundaries. It should be noted that My Mall Limassol is located within 800 metres to the east, while the integrated casino City of Dreams Mediterranean will be situated even closer to the east. To the south, there is agricultural land, the Limassol Salt Lake and the British bases in Akrotiri. Moreover, the Limassol port is located to the project’s southeast side.



OPAP All-Star Game on 14 December

The big sports and life event OPAP All Star Game “I play by the rules – I drive ny the rules” will be held for the ninth consecutive year on Saturday 14 December at the Tassos Papadopoulos-Eleftheria stadium. This year’s event will mark the anniversary of 50 years of OPAP actions in Cyprus and will offer quality entertainment with many innovations. Speaking at the Press Conference, OPAP’S managing director, Demetris Altetraris said that this is an event that they started in cooperation with the Cyprus Basketball Federation and which was established by the love of the Cypriot population. Aletraris said that this is a multifaceted event, since apart from the spectacle and entertainment it offers, it also promotes safe driving.



Plenary passes almost all SGO budgets

The House Plenary approved all the Semi-Governmental Organisation budgets before the end of the year for the first time in 10 years, apart from the Budgets for three organisations for which discussion will continue in January. As the Chairman of the House Finance Committee Angelos Votsis said, it was the first time that the 30 Budgets of the Semi-Governmental organisations were submitted at the end of the year. He added that even though the budgets for Cyprus Ports Authority, CyBC and Cyprus Grain Commission, were submitted on time, discussion for these will continue in January. On Friday, the last regular meeting of the House Plenary for 2019, passed, with an extraordinary process, the Budgets of the National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission (35 votes, 1 abstention), the Single Agency for the Out of Court Settlement of Financial Disputes (unilateral), the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (35 votes, 1 against), the Council for Medically Assisted Reproduction (unilateral). They also passed the Budgets of the Cyprus Land Development Organisation (unilateral), the National Telecommunication Authority(unilateral), the Cyprus News Agency (unilateral), the Special Fund for the Professional Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities (unilateral), the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organisation (unilateral), the Cyprus Sports Organisation (40 by 1 votes, 1 abstention), the Open University of Cyprus (unilateral) and the Cyprus Youth Organisation ( 37 by 1). The Plenary also passed the Budgets for the Central Agency for Equal Distribution of Burdens, the Cyprus Radio-television Authority.

 

Flights to France return in 2021

In October, Cyprus Airways had announced its intention to launch a route between Larnaca and Paris (Orly Airport) in the context of its summer schedule. The company’s intention to rebuild the communication bridge with the French market following Cobalt’s collapse, was not implemented since there was limited interest in the market in order to ensure the route’s profitability. As such, the company changed course and incorporated Verona and Geneva in its schedule rather than Paris. This case is a small indication of the wider image of the French market, which is moving rather slowly. The Deputy Ministry will visit France in the beginning of 2020 in order to negotiate with tour operators and promote Cyprus tourism in the French market. The Deputy Ministry estimates that realistically, flights to the French market will begin in 2021. This however, presupposes that the competent authorities will prepare the ground with contacts and visits within 2020.

 

Hoteliers block Plenary vote on Airbnbs

Friday’s vote for the bill regulating Airbnb type platforms was postponed shortly before the meeting. EDEK requested that the vote is postponed and this was also supported by the rest of the parties. The hoteliers are very angry at the new amendment to the bill that simplifies the requirements of accommodations. Indeed, the hoteliers sent a letter to all parties on Friday, requesting the postponement of the vote. According to PASYXE’s letter, the bill does not include serious matters, such as fire safety, safety and health with all the risks that something like this entails. Moreover, the president of PASYXE, Haris Loizides notes that the bill does not forecast imposing municipal and other fees and/or taxes like these are imposed on the rest of licensed tourist accommodation such as hotels, serviced apartments, villas etc. and as a result unfair competition has been maintained at the expense of the legal industry. According to PASYXE, this inconsistency in fees and taxes, will work as an incentive for current licensed accommodation to be struck-off from the Deputy Ministry’s classification so that they are introduced in the new category of self-serviced accommodation like Airbnb. PASYXE also notes that this opens up the possibility for tax evasion.

 

Health Minister says healthcare budget serves as answer to critics

The Minister of Health said that anyone who doubts the government’s interest in public hospitals should look at the State Budget itself. In a written statement he commented on the concerns that have been raised with regards to the collapse of public hospitals and a lack of interest on the part of the Government. He noted that they realise that public hospitals have problems and both the Ministry and OKYPY are working intensely in order to solve them. “I expect however everyone who are highlighting these problems on a daily basis, to contribute to the effort to tackle them”, he added. Mr Ioannou stated that the Ministry’s budget, the highest it has ever been in the history of the Republic of Cyprus and by extension OKYPY, makes up 10% of the state’s total budget (increased by 50% compared with 2017) and clearly demonstrates that the Government is actively investing in healthcare with a clear plan to support state hospitals.

 

Almost half of Cypriots used GHS in November

More GHS beneficiaries used the system’s services in November. However, compared to October the number of referrals dropped by 22,000. This is a result of the restrictions that the HIO started putting forward as of October. According to the HIO’s data, in November 504,419 visits to private and specialised doctors were recorded - 65,030 more than October and 118,030 more than September. The HIO seems to have dealt with the abuse problem and is now promoting measures. Apart from implementing protocols and guidelines that the doctors are now required to follow, the distinction by speciality in the specialised doctors’ budget, is also in the works. The article adds that requests for blood tests amounted to 238,434, down from October by 21,860.



Very close to our goals

In an interview with Kathimerini, OKYPY’s representative Pambos Charilaou talks about the work that has been achieved so far, and that they’re really close to reaching their goal as it comes to outpatient care. Regarding financial incentives for state doctors, he clarified that the organisation will not give doctors any incentives that will jeopardize the sustainability of state hospitals. He describes the work put forward in the Organisation so far, but also states the next steps in view of the implementation of the GHS’ second phase.

 

Doctors lining up to join the GHS

Reportedly, there’s been an increased interest among doctors to join the GHS in view of the second phase of the GHS. HIO’s Andreas Papaconstantinou confirmed that there is increased interest, noting that doctors of large private hospitals have applied to join the GHS, and processing applications takes 25 days due to the massive workload. He said that as of right now, there are about 100-150 pending applications, while the Organisation is receiving new applications every day.

 

The course of the GHS’s implementation

The correct preparation for the implementation of the second phase of the GHS is the biggest challenge for the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), as there are just six months to go and the majority of procedures are still in the early stages, with some issues not even being touched upon. As was the case last year, the HIO focused the biggest part of its efforts on negotiating with the healthcare providers who will join the system in its second phase of implementation. Besides, some of the procedures that are pending depend on the outcome of these consultations. Currently, consultations are underway with nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and psychologists. There is a serious pending issue however, as the financial aspect of their integration in the System has not yet been discussed. The HIO is focusing most of its efforts currently on its consultations with the private hospitals, as their inclusion in the GHS is imperative. It is concerning that there are disagreements between the HIO and private hospitals, some big and some small, which will inevitably create problems. This is why the consultations, which began in October, have not wrapped yet. On a positive note, the representatives of the private hospitals are negotiating with a positive attitude.

 

Concerns over new wave of doctor resignations

In its announcement PASESI, states that despite the promises by OKYPY and the Health Minister to give incentives to specialised state doctors, the negotiations haven’t been completed yet. PASESI notes that resignations could be prevented if doctors receive their incentives on time and if the unions’ opinions are taken into consideration. According to its announcement, “it’s been 5 months since the GHS’ implementation which created new professional options for doctors”. “We fear that what happened with incentives for GPs will be repeated, leading to a new wave of doctor resignations, at a time of increased morbidity and when our focus should have been on preparing state services for the second phase of GHS”.

 

Second phase of GHS requires attention

Preparations for the second phase of the GHS requires attention, the Minister of Health Constantinos Ioannou told Phileleftheros. He admits that while there is a positive climate so far as it comes to the introduction of private hospitals to the system, no agreement has been reached so far even though they expected that the negotiations would have ended about two weeks ago. He supports that in order to reach an agreement, the differences between the HIO and the Cyprus Association of Private Clinics and Hospitals must be first bridged, and called on the two sides to think ahead so that there are no future problems. “I would like to welcome the dialogue that the two sides have begun with good will and intentions, after the encouragements of the President of the Republic himself. However, in order to reach a deal, the differences between the two parties must be bridged”. He added that he does not think there is a thorn in the negotiation but he believes that the two sides have to be very careful in their moves in order to agree to a properly calculated framework that minimise the likelihood of problems emerging in the future. “On the one hand, PASIN rightfully aims to ensure its members’ viability”, the Minister says. “This was besides rather expected, as they are essentially businesses that need to remain profitable. On the other hand, the HIO needs to ensure a rational and comprehensive proposal, that takes into account the private hospital’s situation and mainly its own budget. Securing that we remain within the global budget, is a necessary requirement.”

 

British American Tobacco invests €20m in Greece

On Saturday, BAT announced that it will invest €20m to support its heated tobacco product ‘glo’ in Greece. The investments mainly have to do with creating and supporting a sales network for the new product, which has only been present in the Greek market for about a year. BAT will strategically invest €20m in the next couple years, in order to create an extensive retail sales network for its potentially reduced-risk glo product. Though this new investment, the glo product will be available at 2,000 retail points across Greece (kiosks and mini markets), while it’s worth noting that the glo products are available in Greece through Nobacco. According to the announcement, the cooperation with Nobacco will continue and will be further strengthened, as these products and neosticks will remain available at Nobacco (both online store and thousand retail points). Greece is one of the first European countries where these products have become available. Neosticks are tobacco sticks used in the glo devices and they’re designed with a new filter which improves the product’s characteristics. The new neosticks will be available in new flavours for €3.5. Glo is a device which heats, instead of burns, specifically designed tobacco sticks, resulting in 90-95% less toxic substances compared to conventional tobacco smoke. According to BAT, its new investments in Greece will increase container traffic at the group’s international logistic hub in Piraeus port.

 

So Easy Stores: preference towards small shops

The sector of convenience stores and subsequently the perception of top-up shopping have been showing continued development over the last few years in the Cypriot market, something which has been a trend on a European and global level for quite some time now, says Kyriakos Zenios, Operations Manager of So Easy stores. Consumers want their convenience, so they turn to smaller shops. He believes that one factor that affects the sector’s development, from a development and diversification point of view, is the instability surrounding the shops’ opening hours, which needs to be clarified. Other factors that also affect its development, mainly concerning tobacco products, include the tax regime, the presence of heat & vibes products and the significant increase of smuggled products.

 

Vaping is not harmless

The use of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly spreading over the last few years, especially among young people. Initially, e-cigarettes emerged as an alternative to conventional cigarettes with the prospect of ridding smokers of their harmful addiction. However, it appears that it’s not an harmless habit. The research into its consequences is ongoing, but some studies have been completed so far, giving the first negative verdicts. Pneumonologist Dr Andreas Zachariades explained that it’s not a harmless habit like vapers were led to believe, as more and more studies, as well as medical opinions, show that these products are in fact harmful and he underlined that they must be monitored more strictly. He argues that the public must be properly informed about the consequences of e-cigarettes, they need to know that it’s not harmless, and that it’s not a proven method of reducing or quitting conventional smoking.

 

T/C “Chamber of Commerce” protest

The Turkish Cypriot “chamber of commerce” talks about the recent measures implemented by the Greek Cypriot side, arguing that they inhibit crossings and poison the trust between the two communities, while it refers to policies which provoke concern, following the implementation of the Green Line regulation. According to the T/C press, the “chamber of commerce” argues that the stricter checks are a way for the G/C side to inhibit crossings of both G/Cs and tourists into the occupied areas. It also states that communication and trade between the two communities are very important, and such measures and checks will benefit neither community, and even suggest that restricting crossings will negatively impact on the efforts underway to restart talks about the Cyprus Problem.

 

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