Daily Press Review - 09/09/2019

ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ NEWS Δημοσιεύθηκε 9.9.2019
Daily Press Review - 09/09/2019

In the press over the weekend and today:


 Gladstone Residences underway

Phileleftheros reports that works to complete another ambitious project in one of the most characteristic areas in Nicosia will start soon. The residential project Gladstone Residences will be on Gladstonos street, in one of the capital’s most popular areas. Even though works had started and advanced up to a point, due to the crisis the project remained unfinished by the company that previously owned the project. The ownership passed to Bank of Cyprus (BoC), and was up for sale by REMU. In fact, the project was valued at €9,7m. Recently, the bank reached an agreement with Rotos Developers, who acquired the project and is now in the final stages of renewing its plans and acquiring the necessary permits to move forward with its completion. The initial plans foresaw 6 apartment buildings (26 apartments in total) as well as 4 independent luxury residences. A common parking lot in the basement would accommodate 69 vehicles. The total project was intended to cover 8,051sqm, while the basement would take up an additional 2,519sqm. According to Phileleftheros’ sources, the new owners do not plan to make any major changes, since the project will be continued and completed as a luxury residential development. Indeed, the project is located in an area known for its architectural value and is located near embassies, ministries, state services as well as popular private businesses. Rotos Developers has developed many residential projects in Nicosia over the past few years, mainly in the area near the University of Nicosia, while the company also built Wargaming’s headquarters. It’s worth noting that the online gaming company’s (who is a major shareholder in Hellenic Bank) headquarters had started off as a project by Rotos group, before it was acquired by the tech companies and the plans were altered in order to meet the needs of Wargaming.

The Presidential palace is worth as much as an apartment building

The Presidential Palace, along with all of its buildings and the surrounding 173,776sqm area was valued at €13,207,000. Almost as much as an apartment building. According to the Land Registry, in 2013 the Presidential Palace was worth €14,857,800. Similar reductions can be observed in most state real estate, whose value, only in Nicosia, shrunk from €4.2b (1/1/2013) to €2b (1/1/2018). Meanwhile, private properties that were developed are now presented as properties or plots. An example is the highest building in Nicosia, on Makariou street which is presented as a property or plot. The article goes on to list many state buildings whose value has also decreased, but the author states that private real estate is somewhat mixed as some saw their value skyrocket while others plummeted. For instance, Wargaming’s building (with a surface area of 524 sq.m), near the Presidential palace, was worth €879,000 in 2013, while its value in 2018 stood at €687,300. On the real estate’s characteristics, it was listed as a “property" something which may explain its valuation. Another example is KPMG’s building (next to Wargaming) has a surface area of 2,192 sq.m and in 2013 was valued at €20,954,200 and in 2018 €22,023,200.

School supplies for all children

On 3/9/19, representatives of the Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council (PSSE), led by its president Elias Demetriou, received school supplies from Hellenic Bank to support PSSE’s new campaign “School supplies for all children”. The school supplies were distributed to children of vulnerable families so they would begin the new school year fully equipped.

System integration and how clients of former Co-op will be affected

The integration of the systems of the Co-op and Hellenic will begin on Friday 13 September at 11:30 a.m. On Monday 16 September, all of Hellenic Bank’s clients (including clients of the former Co-op) will be able to receive the full extent of the bank’s services at any branch across Cyprus. The bank advises any of its clients that will be affected to complete any transactions prior to Friday 11:30 a.m. in order to avoid any potential inconvenience until the process is completed.

BoC: reduced its deposit rates

BoC implemented a significant reduction in deposit rates, following in Hellenic Bank’s footsteps. For some deposit products the interest rate reduction is substantial as it is for deposits of 18 months, while for other products there is no change. As it was announced on the bank’s website, for the product e-fixed deposit 12 months, the interest rate stands 0.25% for any amount while it previously stood at 0.35% for deposits up to €50,000 and 0.4% for deposits over €50,000. A significant reduction in interest rates was implemented in child’s savings accounts from 0.5% to 0.35%, while for frequent savings account the interest rate now stands at 0.2%, a reduction from 0.3%. BoC followed Hellenic Bank’s footsteps to implement negative interest rates for large depositors, mainly semi-state institutions.

The Co-op branch in Pelendri was officially shut down

The Pelendri community is now officially without a bank, since the branch of former Co-op was shut down. There was intense frustration and despair by residents of the Pelendri community, as well as the surrounding areas. Despite efforts to keep the branch open, Hellenic Bank assessed the community’s request but ultimately decided to shut it down on 6 September. This decision by Hellenic Bank has created doubts among local authorities and residents for the future, as they were promised that the buildings of the former Co-op, would be allocated to the community. An impromptu protest was held during lunch hours.

HFC: Guarantor acquitted because he wasn’t informed about loan

The Financial Commissioner Pavlos Ioannou made a decision that may impact many more cases of guarantors of the Housing Finance Corporation (HFC). The decision concerned a complaint by a physical person who was a guarantor in a loan given by the HFC, which was delayed since 2003 but for which the guarantor was only updated in 2017. According to the decision, the HFC accepted the findings of the office and informed that this particular guarantor is acquitted of any guaranteeing agreement for the loan. The commissioner noted that “under specific conditions it’s possible for other HFC guarantors to be acquitted from their guarantor obligations.”

BoC increases security measures for its digital channels

The BoC has complied with the European Payments Directive in due time. According to the directive they need to implement stricter identification procedures for their clients, in order to better safeguard payments through electronic applications. The European directive relates to the “Payment Services Directive” 2015/2366 (PSD2). As stated in the security measures described in the RTS-Regulatory Technical Standard, which will come in force on 13/9/2019, in cases where payment services providers implement strict identification, they need to take additional security measures that meet certain demands. Following this regulation, in the coming period, BoC will be carrying out upgrades to its 1bank digital channels.

Estia: Alert to avoid congestion

Estia applicants will need to submit 50 different documents so as to complete their applications and be approved for the Estia scheme. The main concern is that borrowers will be buried in paperwork, as many documents have to be requested by state services, and banks will need to hastily examine and investigate all the applications on time. Banking sources told Phileleftheros that they have property prepared and many of these applications are almost complete. As I to comes to the Land Registry, they have that citizens use their website for their convenience and in order to avoid any issues of delays.

90 Cypriot Companies in the OFAC list

The US Finance Ministry’s sanctions list for money laundering and terrorism funding, features a total 93 companies who are headquartered or are in some way connected to Cyprus. OFAC has published a list with the natural and legal persons who are being sanctioned for money laundering or funding terrorism on its website, on Wednesday 4 September.

Are Russians really abandoning Cyprus?

From time to time, articles emerge which claim that foreign investors from third countries, and especially Russians, are abandoning Cyprus, and have raised concerns and questions in regards to their presence in Cyprus. It’s worth noting that prior to the crisis in 2013, Cyprus’ banking system had multiple high deposits from individuals of third countries. As such, in 2012 deposits of individuals from third countries amounted to €21.5b. Today, deposits of foreigners from third countries only amount to €6.7b, thereby raising concerns that Russians are leaving Cyrus, among the relevant authorities as well as businesspersons. Is that true however? And if so, what is driving them to leave Cyprus? Individuals from the business community state that it’s not yet clear whether Russians are indeed leaving Cyprus. Mr. Evgenios Evgeniou, the President of the Cyprus-Russian Business Association says that Russian deposits may be reduced but their presence is still strong. He claims that we should also define the meaning of abandonment. Is it Russian depositors or investors who are “abandoning” Cyprus? Moreover, the article critiques recent measures by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) with regards to shell companies. It’s highlighted, that implementing stricter checks on financial transactions of said companies was a direct order from the US, who thought that these companies were used for money laundering or tax evasion. Wargaming’s former co-founder, Ivan Mikhnevich, noted that CBC’s policies resulted in the shutting down of thousands of Russian accounts, while he described the current conditions in Cyprus as “toxic”, regarding Russian companies’ activities, due to the instructions that financial institutions in Cyprus must follow. Meanwhile, it should not be dismissed that the haircut of deposits was followed by the significant reduction in deposit rates, and a fact that also contributed deposits leaving Cyprus.

File Estia: The first days, questions and answers

Applications by borrowers to join the Estia scheme did not exceed 100. Despite the scheme having been published on the Ministries’ websites for months now as well as on the banks’ websites, it appears that many loan borrowers were not informed. The banks participating in the scheme are Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank, Cyprus Asset Management Company (KEDIPES), Alpha Bank, AstroBank, Eurobank, the National Bank of Greece and Gordian Holdings. It’s estimated that NPLs with a total value of €250m at Hellenic Bank will be joining the scheme.  During the first week of the scheme’s implementation, borrowers have turned to the banks in order to receive information and apply. The banks are carrying out the procedures of relevant documents at a reduced rate, due to the large amount of paperwork that borrowers have to submit. Additionally, interested borrowers haven’t invested the time necessary in order to prepare their application, and as such many remain incomplete. Borrowers are also delayed by the Land Registry, from where they need to get specific documentation for their property.

Nor attitudes nor mindsets change

In an opinion article, the author writes about the Estia scheme and how its results from the first week are disappointing, and how both the Government and the Banks are counting on this scheme, to relieve some pressure from the NPLs. There was a reduction in the number of NPLs due to the integration of the former Co-op in Hellenic Bank but that wasn’t enough. The author continues to criticise the Estia process and its parameters for borrowers.

The government debt challenge

An opinion article argues that the direction of government debt is a significant indicator for the economy, as it shows any challenges or signs of negative developments. Despite the drop that was recorded, Cyprus’ government debt increased as a percentage of the GDP in 2018, after the government facilitated the Co-op-Hellenic Bank deal. The government debt increased after the Co-op-Hellenic deal, but through proper management this will lead to the reduction of government debt.

Who mourns for the Co-op?

A milestone for the Cypriot Banking System was the 1 September 2018. The banking sector changed as the last Cypriot bank became history. Hellenic Bank acquired the network of Co-op branches following an agreement for the acquisition of the Co-op’s “good” business (deposits, loans, branches and personnel) by Hellenic. Indeed, 8 days from now the integration project of the former Co-op to Hellenic Bank will be officially completed. A year ago the Co-op shut down. A year later, no one is mourning or preparing a memorial.

BoC among the best digital banks of West Europe

BoC was recognised as one of the best digital banks of West Europe for 2019 by the esteemed magazine “Global Finance”. This international recognition confirms that their continuous efforts and investments in the context of a digital reform programme has bore fruit. The magazine announced the first round of winners of the “World’s Best consumer Digital Banks Awards” for 2019, honouring BoC for their accomplishments in digital banking.

Cypriots hold the reigns in deposits

BoC is the main life source of the Cypriot economy, the biggest loan provider in Cyprus, and has the largest market share, holding 41.3% of loans in the first quarter of 2019. Also, BoC remains one of the main players in deposits, its portfolio includes a high level of deposits. BoC’s deposits stand at €16b while its loans stand at €13b, meaning it has €3b more deposits than loans. According to data, most depositors come from Cyprus (67%), followed by 21% from European countries, 5% from other countries and 4% from Russia.

 BoC prepares Cyreit 2

BoC is preparing a second real estate investment fund (Cyreit 2). According to Kathimerini’s sources, Cyreit 2 will include 10 commercial real estate, that are mostly located in Cyprus, but not limited to these. The value of the real estate, will amount to around € 50-80m. Invel Real Estate Management Ltd, has once again expressed interest.

The chapter of “consistent borrowers” tabled again

Kathimerini reports that the provision of benefits to “consistent borrowers” will be discussed at the House Finance Committee. A week after the Estia scheme was launched, the Parliament will discuss the possibility of providing benefits/help to consistent borrowers who don’t have NPLs, so as to balance the help that people joining Estia will benefit from. On Monday, Harris Georgiades will update the House on Estia scheme, as well as the government’s intentions and plans to draw up an action plan for the people who are not eligible for Estia, as well as the consistent borrowers.

 G/C expenditure boom in the occupied areas

The reduced prices in fuel, the downfall of the Turkish Lira, and the holidays has tripled the amount of G/Cs who crossed to the occupied areas over the summer period. According to police data, over the period June-August, 734,301 G/Cs crossed to the occupied areas through the checkpoints. The increased presence of G/Cs in the occupied areas can also be seen through the use of credit cards, since for June and July card payments in the occupied areas amounted to €3.9m, while there is no available data for August. Credit card payments in Turkey also increased to €1.1m for June-July 2019. Beyond the increase of G/C crossings to the occupied areas, the number of T/Cs crossing the free areas also increased. In detail, 333,499 T/C crossed in June-August while only 259,447 had crossed in the respective period in 2018. In 2019, card payments by Turkish cards in the free areas amounted to €2.1m.

Corruption in the public sector can be found everywhere

In an interview with Phileleftheros, the Government’s Attorney General Costas Clerides, says that corruption has spread everywhere in the public sector, highlighting that when there is an issue of financial interest or the possibility of having it there’s always corruption as well. He said that “the public interest is rarely prioritised to personal interest”.

Households hoping for an extension on bills

Phileleftheros reports that the majority of Cypriot households have started counting their money after the summer holidays as they gathered a great number of bills and fees that they have to pay off in the coming period. They are called to pay hundreds of euros, always depending on the family’s size, composition. The bills include the municipal real estate fee, garbage fees, sewage fees, which includes a fee depending on how wealthy is each Sewerage Council as well as the repeated waterboard fees, electricity and telephone bills. It may be an exaggeration to say that many people didn’t go on holidays due to these bills, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they reduced the length of their vacation. In some cases, their holidays were even affected since staying at a holiday apartment costed €80-120 per day in August. A family of 5 could be called to pay monthly rent between €550-700, even if there are families that pay more and some pay less. The bills for Sewerage Councils are between €100-200. A €200.000-house in Nicosia is charged €126, while a house worth €3000.000 is charged around €190. The Municipal property fee can be between €30-70, depending on the value of the house, while garbage fees amount to €150-200 depending on the Local Authority. These bills, along with the repeated electricity and phone bills, have to be paid between September-October. Many citizens are hoping that they are given an extension to pay their bills, so that they are able to pay them with their 13th salary.

International firms to carry out due diligence checks for passports

The government has completed the evaluation of offers from eight firms, in the context of choosing the firms that will carry out due diligence checks for individuals who apply for the Cypriot citizenship. Within September, the government will sign agreements with three firms. The due diligence checks, will ensure that the Cypriot citizenship is not given to politically exposed persons and high-risk persons. The government believes that this is an important measure, because they have in the meantime, taken a series of measures that didn’t convince foreign and local authorities about the credibility of the Cyprus Investment Programme. The foreign firms will be receiving an equal number of applications and will carry out individual reports for each applicant. The measure will be implemented both for the investors as well as their family members, their partners, adult children and parents.

Investment banking revenues plunge to 13-year low

Financial Times reports that revenues at the world’s top investment banks plunged to a 13-year low in the first half of 2019 as geopolitical tensions, slowing growth and low interest rates compounded a structural decline that set in after the financial crisis. The 12 biggest US and European investment banks generated $76.8bn in revenue from their trading and advisory operations during the six-month period, down 11 per cent from 2018. It was the slowest first half since 2006, according to the latest data from industry monitor Coalition. The banks had individually reported poor second-quarter earnings for their markets and investment banking divisions, including an 18 per cent fall in fixed-income revenues at Morgan Stanley and a 32 per cent decline in equities revenues at Deutsche Bank, which is in the process of shutting its stock trading business. Across the group, the most eye-catching fall was in equities, where revenue dropped 17 per cent year on year across all regions because of significant declines in client demand for derivatives and prime brokerage services, the business of lending to and trading for hedge funds.

Limassol port is a real gem worth €735m

Limassol port is truly a gem, as according to the latest evaluation (in January 2018), the two plots of land in the area it spans alone, are worth €735,380,400. The facilities at Larnaca airport are worth €176,965,500 and Paphos airport €123,478,500. Plot 163 at Limassol port, with an area of 776,977m2, in the Merras area, was evaluated at €364,700,000 in 2013 and €393,453,600 in 2018. The evaluation for plot 477 in the port area, went from €292,752,000 in 2013 up to €341,926,900 in 2018. The evaluation for plot 678, spanning 8,246m2, increased from €13,235,000 in 2013 to €23,948,900 in 2018. Plot 333, with an area of 3,126m2, went from €13,680,000 to €5,096,500.

The Italian Navy’s ship Etna will drop anchor in Limassol

A fleet support ship of the Italian Navy, commanded by Captain Luca Pasquale Esposito, will anchor at Limassol port on Tuesday, 10 September, and will remain in port until Friday, 13 September. The ship (Etna) arrives in Limassol for the seventh and last stop of the Italian Naval School's summer cadet training after stopping at Tangier, Barcelona, Tunis, Piraeus, Istanbul and Haifa. Etna was designed as a support ship able to supply a larger squadron at sea. As such, she has the capability to refuel ships, produce fresh water, and carry cargo. She has a cargo capacity of up to 5,795 tons of diesel fuel, 1,585 tons of aviation fuel for aircraft on aircraft carriers, 160 tons of fresh water, up to twelve containers, for about total 2,000 m3 of solid goods. She has a length between perpendiculars of 138.8 metres, with an overall length of 146 metres. Her beam is 21 metres, and she draws 7.5 metres. She is powered by two Sulzer diesel engines, which power Etna to a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph), though she has the greatest range (7,600 nautical miles (14,100 km; 8,700 mi)) at a speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). During its stay in the port of Limassol, the ship will be available for public visits on Thursday, 12 September, from 14.00 to 18.00. Those wishing to visit must notify the Italian Embassy's Military Attorney's Office in Nicosia by Wednesday, 11 September at 18:00.

Eurogate Paddled for The Children

Members of the management and staff of Eurogate Container Terminal Limassol Ltd (the operator of the Container Terminal at the Limassol port), took part in an exciting rowing event, aiming to financially support the Funraising charity association, which helps economically-challenged children and families. The charity rowing event entitled “Dragon Boat Charity Challenge – Paddling for Children”, was organised on Sunday, 1 September 2019, at the Limassol marina by Funraising, in cooperation with the Cyprus Dragon Boat Federation and the Raging Mouflons Dragon Boat team. Eurogate’s team participated in the race with two rowing boats and a 32-member crew, managing to finish in first and second place. The contestants trained intensely over the past month, so that they could be in top physical condition and made a commendable effort by giving their absolute best.

Seminar on “Horizon 2020”

The Cyprus Shipping Chamber organised a specialised seminar on 5 September in Limassol aimed at updating member-companies on EU funding opportunities via the “Horizon 2020” scheme. Distinguished speakers such as Research and Innovation chief scientist Kyriakos Kokkinos addressed the seminar.

They forgot about the speed boats

The fact that there were no serious incidents in the summers of 2018 and 2019 involving speed boats has made the Deputy Ministry of Shipping complacent when it comes to changing the legal framework surrounding their operation; a task that was stepped up in 2017 by the former Merchant Shipping Department after a spate of serious accidents. Currently, the regulatory framework that was introduced in 2002 applies, while the procedure to renew it has been pending for the past 10 years. Meanwhile, Politis reports that the number of speed boats using the Cypriot seas has doubled.

Ships bring revenue

Cyprus is looking at the possibility of revising its tonnage tax for ships, as well as its pricing policy for the registration of ships on the Cypriot register, in an effort to further boost the Cypriot shipping industry’s competitiveness, according to President Nicos Anastasiades. Addressing the celebrations of Fleet Management Ltd’s 25th anniversary, Anastasiades said that the gross capacity of the ships registered on the Cypriot register has reached 24.5 million tons, which is at its highest level since 2010. He added that after establishing the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, the number of shipping companies that joined the tonnage tax system increased from 168 to 215. He said that the revenue from ship management companies reached €1.03b in 2018, compared with €948m in 2017 (a 9% annual increase). ,

Efforts to boost cruise tourism

The Deputy Ministry of Tourism is making an effort to boost cruise tourism, with deputy minister Savvas Perdios scheduled to travel to Hamburg this week to attend one of the biggest cruise tourism expos. Perdios tells Alithia, among other, that the deputy ministry is putting a lot of emphasis on cruise tourism, as the absence of cruises from the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years has moved all the cruise ships to the western Mediterranean. Now, due to the excessive demand there, the ships have started to turn back to the eastern Mediterranean, and thus this climate needs to be taken advantage of, he said. The eastern Mediterranean is now being presented as a new cruise destination, as it was absent for the past four years. The deputy ministry has already attended 2-3 cruise-related expos this year, while it will next attend the Seatrade expo in Hamburg, which is a very important expo. “We will have meetings with many and important companies from across the globe; we already have positive news for this year. I feel that over the next 2-3 years we will see a recovery in the cruise industry,” said Perdios. As it comes to the enhancement projects that are underway, such as for example the marinas and the casino-resort, and how much these will help our tourist product, Perdios said that “they will help a lot, as they will attract customers with a higher purchase power. As such, what we have been wishing for decades now in Cyprus, is to increase expenditure per capita, and these types of tourism will help. We also hope that they will help with the seasonality challenge i.e. the casino for example, will be open year-round in a city like Limassol, and will be able to attract people in the winter, when our beaches are not accessible. Apart from these, we also want to see more investments and we are intending to inform the private sector on the matter…”

Exports hanging by a thread due to Brexit

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which is set to take place in two months’ time, with a real possibility of there being a no-deal Brexit. From Cyprus’ point of view, the exports of potatoes, halloumi and medicines to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit are hanging by a thread. Britain is Cyprus’ biggest trade partner, both in terms of imports (6.6% of the total) as well as exports (around 4% of the total). The biggest concern is an upheaval of the currency exchange rate and the strengthening of the euro against the British sterling. If this is the case, then Cypriot products will automatically become more expensive, which combined with a reduction in the Brits’ purchasing power, will have a dire impact on Cypriot exports. Another industry that is expected to suffer is tourism, according to the general secretary of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Leonidas Paschalides, who said that holiday packages will become more expensive for British tourists.

Bomb hoax call in Ayia Napa casino

The police station of Ayia Napa received a bomb hoax phone call by an unknown person a little after midnight on Sunday. Specifically, as Cyprus Times has learned, the unidentified person called the police and said “I lost 10 thousand euro at the Casino, I planted a bomb and it’s going to explode in 5 minutes”. After the call, police officers evacuated the space and proceeded to with the appropriate measures, without however finding anything. Sources report that the investigations point to the fact that the phone call was carried out from a telephone booth opposite a hotel in Ayia Napa.

The Cyprus…model

The new Greek PM, Kyriacos Mitsotakis wants to apply the Cyprus Model in Greece. He considers it to be successful and this is something he had said long before the elections. He had even invited the Cypriot Minister of Finance, Harris Georgiades to a New Democracy conference. According to an article by Giorgos Pirishis in Phileleftheros, the Greek PM will implement the passport policy, the creation of private universities and the construction of a casino-resort etc. What hasn’t been announced yet is that Kyriacos Mitsotakis will receive guidance by technocrats from the Cypriot ruling party. If the Greek government proceeds with this, then Greece will become a Cyprus’ competitor.

GHS within budget  

So far, the HIO is within the budget as the first three months of the GHS’ operation amount to €70m, while they had a budget of €40m per month – €120m for all three months. Specifically, HIO’s Angelos Tropis spoke to CNA and talked about the budget and GHS’ positive financial course so far. He noted that the €70m expenditure includes personal and specialised doctors, pharmaceuticals and laboratory jobs for outpatient health care. He attributed this difference to the fact that some healthcare providers haven’t joined the GHS yet (specialised doctors of the private sector), and that not all of the beneficiaries are registered in the GHS catalogues either. He added “it’s expected that the real expenditure will gradually increase as more healthcare providers join the system and beneficiaries join the system”.

State aid to private hospitals

The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced a state aid scheme for private hospitals for 2019-2020 and calls interested private hospitals to submit their application. According to the scheme, the maximum capacity of grants must not exceed €200,000 over the course of 3 years, per private hospital. The MoH announced that any late applications will not be approved.

New quarrel between AKEL and the Government over GHS  

AKEL expressed its intense concern over recent rumours that the President of the Republic intends to alter the GHS’ character and philosophy, in collaboration with particular political parties. Such a reform will create patients of different classes within the GHS, according to their financial status. In a written letter by AKEL’s representative Giorgos Loukaides said “We ask the President to clarify and clearly state his intentions following recent rumours that large private interests continue to seek the derailment of the GHS, and we hope that everything we heard about the President is false and that he will promptly refute them. Otherwise, Mr. Anastasiades will not only be opposed by AKEL, but the community as a whole.” The Government Spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou, responded “AKEL appears to continues to engage with rumours about the GHS, but it’s high time that they stopped and faced the reality. The reality is that the GHS is moving forward as planned, and the Government is monitoring it closely in order achieve a successful implementation”.

GHS to be discussed at Presidential Palace

The GHS goes to the Presidential Palace for this week, as the President will carry out a series of meetings in view of the second phase of the GHS’ implementation in June 2020, when the inpatient care will be included in the healthcare services offered by the system. Today, discussions will commence between the President and the Patients’ rights advocates, which will be followed up on Wednesday, by a meeting with the Health Minister and the HIO. That meeting aims to update them and prepare them for the meeting on Thursday between the President, CyMA, the Private Hospital Association, the Cyprus Private Doctors Association and the Private Medical Network Cyprus. This meeting will determine whether private doctors will keep maintain the opposing stance for the GHS and continue to work beyond its framework.

Medication for mental illness is sufficient

The HIO, following a recent article by Phileleftheros about the recent shortage in medications for mental illnesses, gave specific answers for each medication that the psychiatrists and patients claim are in shortage. According to their published data, most of these medications are sufficiently stocked at pharmacies, and are being sold to patients as normal. Some minimal temporary shortages that have been observed, will be solved within the next week when new stock arrives, while others are already covered by generic pharmaceuticals or by dividing the pill (of double the needed intensity) in two. The article goes on to list all of the medications.

Exports hanging by a thread due to Brexit

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which is set to take place in two months’ time, with a real possibility of there being a no-deal Brexit. From Cyprus’ point of view, the exports of potatoes, halloumi and medicines to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit are hanging by a thread. Britain is Cyprus’ biggest trade partner, both in terms of imports (6.6% of the total) as well as exports (around 4% of the total). Over the first five months of 2019, exports of milk products to Britain amounted to €44.2m, exports of vegetables amounted to €6.7m and exports of pharmaceutical products amounted to €3.3m. The biggest concern is an upheaval of the currency exchange rate and the strengthening of the euro against the British sterling. If this is the case, then Cypriot products will automatically become more expensive, which combined with a reduction in the Brits’ purchasing power, will have a dire impact on Cypriot exports. The article reports that the pharmaceuticals industry has sent out mixed messages on Brexit. Speaking to the Phileleftheros, the CEO of Medochemie, Dr Andreas Pittas, stressed that the impact of Brexit on the industry, will not be solely negative, claiming that Brexit may also present business opportunities. As he explained, drug registrations will be more difficult and may take more time, however he appreciates that our exports will not be affected. Already, he said, there is an increase in exports and pharmaceuticals sales haven’t dropped. He also noted that pharmaceuticals are sold in euros, and are therefore not affected by the continuous drop of the Pound Sterling. Pitas predicts that business opportunities will emerge. “Some companies may not be meet the demands of the market in a timely manner, and this will be an opportunity for others who will attempt to fill the gaps”, Pittas concluded.

A new giant of the tobacco industry in the making

Philip Morris (PMI), which sells cigarettes all over the world except the US, is in talks to merge again with Altria Group. Their combined market value is over $210bn. This development confirms predictions by experts of the industry, who always thought that this merger was possible. PMI notes however, that nothing is finalised yet. PMI has a strong presence in Greece via the company “Papastratos”. It’s too early for experts to say confidently how this reunification would impact Greece, considering that it’s a listed company. A great emphasis was placed on the fact that “Papastratos” has invested €300m in the production of iQOS and has a lot of personnel. That is why today, they export 80% of their product to foreign countries such as Spain and Japan. The company is ready to take advantage of each opportunity and challenge that comes their way. An example of that is the recent approval of the FDA to sell iQOS to the US. But in the global race for reduced-risk nicotine products, both companies would benefit from lower costs and higher productivity, Bonnie Herzog, a managing director with Wells Fargo Securities, said in an email on Tuesday. “We have long believed a combination of the two companies would make a lot of sense,” Ms. Herzog said. One of the benefits of a merger would be more diversified geographic sales, which would reduce the risks to Altria from the F.D.A.’s focus on vaping and nicotine reduction, she said. The two giants of the tobacco industry, if they do merge and reunite, will control the market of conventional cigarettes, the market of e-cigarettes in the US with the possibility to expand internationally as well as the iQOS market. Meanwhile, both companies are gradually turning towards the market of e-cigarettes with cannabis.

Cigarettes, alcohol, clothes, mobile phones for auction

From cigarettes to even a semi-automatic paintball gun, clothes as well as a used ring will be set auctioned-off from the Larnaca Customs & Excise department on 3 October. Among many, various things, the auction will feature 4x200 cigaretes, 3x200 cigarettes Gitanes, 2x200 Marlboro Red cigarettes, Al Fakher tobacoo, 1x9x20 Dunhill cigarettes, 20x20 Elegance cigarettes, 1x200 Cedars Silver cigarettes, 4x500 gr Nakhla tobacco, 1x200 Parliament cigarettes, 1x250gr Mazaya tobacco, 2x125gr Mashour tobacco, 1x200 Camel cigarettes, 2x200 Marlboro Light cigarettes, 2x200 Karelia cigarettes.



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