Daily Press Review - 20/12/2019

ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ NEWS Δημοσιεύθηκε 20.12.2019
Daily Press Review - 20/12/2019
The European Commission gave Cyprus a two-month deadline, to ensure the protection of the Natura 2000 areas

Finance Ministry responds over Hellenic guarantees


The Finance Ministry yesterday issued an announcement responding to the media reports and statements by main opposition AKEL about the guarantees the state will pay to Hellenic Bank (HB). It said the claim HB has made to KEDIPES is for €65.8m and it is to cover extraordinary losses that resulted from the loan portfolio it took on as part of the agreement to acquire the Co-op, and part of the €155m that was provided in the relevant agreement for losses incurred in the first 12 months of the agreement, and not any additional sum. “When the sum of the claim is finalised between KEDIPES and Hellenic Bank, in line with the relevant procedures, KEDIPES will pay the sum that is agreed and there will be no burden on the taxpayer,” it said. It also noted that the sum of the claim is in line with the initial calculations of the advisors to both the state and HB, who estimated the total sum would reach €155m. According to the same calculations, the claims will be higher in the first years, and will start dropping significantly as the years go on. It also reminds that based on the agreement’s terms, HB has paid the Republic of Cyprus a fee of €15m, of the total €63m for the guarantees that were granted.



AKEL: Government burdened society with the losses and gifted the profits to Hellenic

The Nicos Anastasiades – DISY government has burdened society with the losses and gifted the profits to HB through state sponsorship, main opposition AKEL’s Harris Polykarpou announced yesterday. “The losses that result from the guarantees that were granted by the state to Hellenic Bank under the agreement for the Co-op, prove how massively it is to blame for the terrible negotiation and criminal results that led to the dissolution of the Co-op,” said Polykarpou. He called on the government to answer: what happened to the assurances the Finance Minister gave parliament that the losses would not exceed €155m over the course of 12 years, when in the first 10 months they had already reached €66m? And what will the final cost be for taxpayers and society?



Deals and changes to the banking map

There were drastic changes to the Cypriot banking sector in 2019, with the number of bank branches reducing, shareholder structures changing, CEOs being replaced, loan securitisation packages being announced, and e-auctions being introduced to help the banks’ efforts to curb NPLs. Providing details of the main changes to the sector so far, the site includes the integration of the Co-op’s operations, systems and data into those of Hellenic Bank’s, saying this was perhaps one of the most complex procedures that took place. The incorporation of the Co-op’s ‘good operations’ made HB the second largest Cypriot bank. For this to happen, it required a share capital increase, which changed the bank’s shareholder structure as follows: Demetra Investment - 21%; Wargaming Group Ltd – 20.2%; Poppy Sarl – 17.3%; Senvest – 5.1%; Third Point Hellenic Recovery Fund – 12.6%; Bank employees’ provident fund – 6.3%; and others – 17.6%.



Guarantor relieved from contract with former Co-op

Financial Ombudsman Pavlos Ioannou has unreservedly accepted a complaint by a natural person against state asset management company KEDIPES, who said that the former Co-op where he was guarantor to a loan failed to inform him in time that there were arrears in the loan instalments. He was informed three years after the first arrears appeared, and was told when the sum of the arrears had reached over €7,000. In his decision, which he published in full, Ioannou said the above was a dire violation of the guarantor’s legally mandated contractual rights. He added that he was examining the possibility of sending the case to the Attorney-general to decide whether the Co-op had committed a criminal offence.

 

4,200 letters to be sent in the coming days

The Housing Finance Corporation is preparing to send out 4,200 letters in the coming days, to borrowers with NPLs that have been guaranteed by the Central Body for the Equal Distribution of Burdens, or which were granted with capital by the Body. The HFC’s general manager, Andreas Georgiou, also told the Cyprus News Agency yesterday that the corporation planned to open a tender in the coming days, to select a platform to manage its NPLs. The aim is for the platform to get to work in early March.

 

Let’s talk about reforms

In an article by Victoras Papadopoulos outlining the Anastasiades’ government’s reforms program, he refers among other major reforms already implemented, to the creation of the two Deputy Ministries for Shipping and Tourism and states that the results have been very effective and that they have already contributed and will continue to support the development of the economy.

 

Turkey is flirting with a hot incident

According to the article, Turkey wants to transform the Eastern Mediterranean region into a volcano with actions aimed at destabilizing it in general. Ankara is now moving on two axes, increasing the tension with Greece and Cyprus, while at the same time trying to cause more general unrest in the eastern Mediterranean basin. By continuing to move at a constant pace, Turkey’s moves are becoming more of a daily challenge. After sending the drones to the occupied and, in general, the militarization movements of the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus, Ankara appears to be engaging in an effort to "warm up" the Aegean waters, with military exercises in the Aegean and Cyprus EEZ, flirting around, and risking to even create a hot incident. Yesterday, Ankara issued two Navtex within the Cyprus’ EEZ region, which have the same coordinates and bind the same maritime region, but for different purposes.

 

Celine Dion speaks about her new album Courage

Celine Dion continues its worldwide tour for her new album Courage with great success, and now explains how the creative process started. With a new video that was recently posted on the singer’s social media, Celine lets us in the backstage of her tour and speaks about how this album was created. “I feel that I started working on this album my whole life”, Celine says and explains that even though she started working on Courage a few years ago, this album is a milestone in her life, since it is the first album she published after the death of her loving husband. At the same time, she takes us to the backstage of her process and we can see footage from the studio where she recorded the album. Celine Dion will be in Cyprus next summer to sign all the songs of Courage as well as all her big hits. The star’s big concert in Cyprus, will take place on 2 August at GSP Stadium in Nicosia and will start at 20:30. People interested in seeing the huge star can still do it by buying a ticket through https://celinedioncyprus.soldoutticketbox.com/ with prices starting at €79. Melco Resorts & City of Dreams is the presenter of the event.



Commission sends government formal notice about Natura

The European Commission gave Cyprus a two-month deadline, to ensure the protection of the Natura 2000 areas. On 27 November, the Commission sent a formal notice to the government, because it hasn’t been assured that our country’s Authorities are putting forward plans or projects without having made sure that these will not affect the integrity of the Natura 2000 network. The EU’s notice aims to maintain the natural habitat as well as the wild fauna and flora. Moreover, its implementation may contribute to ensuring biodiversity through the maintenance of natural habitats on Cypriot ground. The notice also refers to projects that are not immediately connected with the maintenance of Natura 2000 areas, which must be properly scrutinised so as to identify their consequences for the area. BirdLife Cyprus believes that the government has not taken the adequate measures to protect the Natura 2000 areas, due to the residential development in Zakaki in Limassol, between the casino-resort and the lake. Opposition party AKEL highlights that the “main problem we are faced with as a state is the inability to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment Studies for different projects”. “The non-implementation of the directive is observed in projects of every size, from roads and hotels, to golf courses and solar and photovoltaic parks. In the past years we have seen many such irregularities, the development of the protected caves in Peyia, without any Management Plan for the Natura areas, while we have seen an effort to reduce Akamas’ protected areas even more, the head of the AKEL’s Environment Office, Christina Nicolaou told Haravgi.



Perdios: Difficult but successful tourism season

We had a difficult but under the circumstances successful year, said Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios, and expressed hope that next year that the next year will move in a positive direction, following his meeting yesterday with president of EDEK Marinos Sizopoulos. The Deputy Minister of Tourism also met on Wednesday with the president of the Solidarity Movement, Eleni Theocharous. The meetings are aimed at sharing views around tourism issues. The National Tourism Strategy as well as specific issues concerning limiting external factors affecting tourism, improving air connectivity of Cyprus, exploring new tourism markets, the issue of private airbnb apartment rentals were among the topics of discussion. Perdios said he is confident that the national tourism strategy for the next decade will reflect the parties’ philosophy as well.



HIO & GHS doctors agreed on changes

The HIO and GHS doctors agreed on dividing the budget for specialist doctors per medical expertise, beginning the discussion to change the way GPs for adults and paediatricians are being paid so as to provide a part of the budget based on qualitative criteria, thereby changing the status of doctors who receive 100% of their earnings according to the number of beneficiaries in their lists, as well as the way doctors are paid for patients’ visits.

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