Daily Press Review - 31/1/2020

ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ NEWS Δημοσιεύθηκε 31.1.2020
Daily Press Review - 31/1/2020
In the last two years, British American Tobacco (BAT) Hellas has offered around €4m in bonuses and other important benefits to its human resource

Logicom acquired Hellenic Bank shares


Logicom has become a major shareholder in Hellenic Bank (HB), after acquiring a significant number of shares. Logicom Services purchased through the Cyprus Stock Exchange 1,200,000 HB shares worth €0.8340 each, for the total price of €1m. Following the Bank’s latest recapitalisation, its main shareholders were Demetra Investment (21%), Wargaming (20.2%), Poppy S.A.R.L. (17.3%), Third Point (12.6%), ETYK Provident Fund (6.3%), and Senvest (5.1%). After acquiring the shares, Logicom Services will now be added to the above list and the bank’s shareholder profile will change, as Logicom’s stake now exceeds 5%.



  1. Pittalis: CSR is an integral part of Hellenic Bank


Hellenic Bank was honoured with the CSR Award at the INBusiness Awards 2019. The award, which was picked up by Constantinos Pittalis, Investor Relations Manager at HB, acknowledges HB’s actions to help the environment, society and people. HB invests in programmes such as the one offering scholarships, which supports over 80 students, while its “You have the power” initiative supports vulnerable groups. It invests in educating its customers on digital services (emathisis), while it runs mobile banking units to serve people in the rural communities. Its proper management of energy consumption through the ISO 5001 and the ‘Green Offices’ programme are also very important to the bank. And then there is its ‘Eco Schools’ initiative, while it also trains its staff to operate feedback systems.



Eating away at deposits

The readjustment of the banks and their customers to the new environment of negative interest rates has also affected the public sector. The policy of imposing negative rates and charges to maintain deposits has also affected semi-government organisations (SGOs) and public agencies that have deposits at private banks. This new reality is also causing practical problems for public bodies that receive state sponsorship to carry out specific projects or cover operational needs. With the charges, the sum deposited is not enough to cover the costs the sponsorship is meant to cover. A good example is organisations affiliated to the Education Ministry, such as the school boards. The ministry deposits a total sum of €50m, in two instalments, to cover the needs of schools. The money is not withdrawn all at once, however, which means whatever is left in the account is charged with a negative interest rate. Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou has called a meeting to discuss the matter on Wednesday, 5 February. The meeting will be attended by representatives of the Law Office, Finance Ministry, Central Bank, Audit Office and State Treasury. Accountant General Rea Georghiou told Politis that there is concern about how to handle the situation and what can actually be done about it. The head of the Pancyprian Coordinating Committee of School Boards, Dinos Ellinas, told the paper that one option might be to transfer the accounts to banks that are not imposing a negative interest rate. “The cost for the sum of €50m is €300,000 and if the charges are not revoked, we will move to other banks,” he said. Bank of Cyprus will start charging corporate clients, state organisations and SGOs a negative interest rate of -0.40% as of March, with the exception of universities and educational institutions, brokerage offices and capital managers. HB will also start charging a negative deposit rate in March, of -0.60%, on corporate clients, including some SGOs.



No foreclosure until Estia process is complete

Financial Ombudsman Pavlos Ioannou said in an announcement yesterday that there cannot be a foreclosure of a primary residence in the cases where an application is pending for Estia, and they initially appear to meet the criteria to join the scheme, until the entire application procedure – including appeals to the objections committee – has been completed. Ioannou made the announcement after a foreclosure was postponed by KEDIPES/Altamira Ltd, as it initially appears that the specific property meets the criteria to participate in the Estia scheme. The foreclosure, which had been scheduled to take place on 12 February, was cancelled after an intervention by Ioannou. “The Finance Ministry has stated on a number of occasions that in each case where an application has been submitted to participate in the Estia scheme, where the conditions to participate initially appear to be fulfilled (namely the market value of the mortgaged residence is no higher than €350,000 and its certified use is as a primary residence, among other), any foreclosure procedure is postponed until the full completion of the procedures provided for the Estia Scheme,” he said.



Esia scheme and CBC mechanism discussed between borrowers and DIKO

The Borrowers Protection Association (SYPRODAT) and opposition DIKO yesterday met to discuss a series of issues, including the Estia scheme, the mechanism for restructurings that is currently being processed by the Central Bank, the Financial Ombudsman’s thoughts on guarantors, and the protection of borrowers who will not be approved for Estia. Speaking after the meeting, SYPRODAT president Costas Melas said that the association laid out the actions it was taking for a series of matters that concern vulnerable borrowers, while they also exchanged views.



Breakwaters in Oroklini

The Minister of Transport Yiannis Karousos intends to immediately talk with EU Authorities about the creation of seven breakwaters in Oroklini. As he told Phileleftheros, he has asked the relevant departments of the Ministry to move fast, in order to start construction for the seven breakwaters within 2021, since the erosion of the coast of Oroklini is quickly becoming worse. According to the Minister of Transport, the information he received from the Ministry’s officers is that the relevant EU Fund can contribute 75% of the budget for projects such as this one, while the remaining 25% will be contributed by the Local Authority. However, he added that since the Community Council of Oroklini has already said that this amount is too large for the community, the Minister will try to further reduce the contribution percentage below 25%.



Aircraft carrier and tourists

An opinion article states that what stood out in the recent interview of the French Ambassador to Cyprus, Isabelle Dumont, to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), other than the expected arrival of the French aircraft carrier, Charles De Gaulle, at the Limassol Port, is the aim to increase tourism between the two countries. This has already been discussed with Cypriot Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, who also shares the same goal.  For the time being, this goal will be difficultly achieved however, because they are no connecting flights between the two countries. However, positive developments in this regard have not been ruled out.



New protocols for prescribing meds

The HIO is implementing new protocols restricting the prescription of specific medicines, on Sunday 2 February, in an attempt to reduce pharmaceutical expenditure. This move by the HIO has sparked intense reactions among the medical community, as doctors will now have to spend more time on bureaucratic issues, while new chronic patients must take medicines that are “older” and cheaper. HIO Deputy Director Andreas Papaconstantinou said that the reason behind this particular protocol and the directive requiring doctors to complete a questionnaire is to enhance the patient’s folder and reduce any system abuse, as the doctor will have to now justify his actions. He also mentioned that for new chronic patients, older meds may be equally good as the more modern meds, while adding that in each case the doctor will monitor the patient and if they decide to prescribe a modern medicine they will have to follow the relevant procedure. This protocol concerns patients who will begin treatment with these meds for the first time after 02/02/2020. Beneficiaries who have already started treatment prior to the implementation of this protocol will continue their treatment, after they have had a new prescription issued.



Unknown number of flu cases

The actual number of flu cases in Cyprus is unknown, as on one hand sick people are confined in their homes and do not visit their doctor for care and on the other, it is found that many doctors who identify incidents in their clinics do not report them to the competent epidemiological surveillance unit of the Ministry of Health, as they should have. There are of course a number of cases of influenza A that remain unconfirmed because after patients visit their doctor and receive medication they do not undergo the necessary laboratory tests for confirmation. Fortunately, this year’s flu occurs in mild form and there haven’t been any serious incidents compared to the previous year.



PASIN approves MoU for private hospitals’ incorporation in GHS

The private hospitals association (PASIN) officially and definitely approved the Memorandum of Understanding that was proposed by the HIO, which aims to incorporate private hospitals into the GHS. The Secretariat General of PASIN convened yesterday and approved the memorandum of understanding (9 in favour, 4 against, 2 abstentions), giving the green light to private hospitals to join the GHS if they wish to, following a negotiation with the HIO. In statements to Phileleftheros following the end of the PASIN’s meeting, the president of the Association, Savvas Kadis said that he informed both the Minister of Health and the president of the HIO’s Board Thomas Antoniou and added that they are expecting that they will be called to sign the Memorandum soon. The Memorandum will be signed by PASIN’s president, the HIO and the Minister of Health as already agreed. He noted that as PASIN, they cannot impose or guide members as to what they will decide. He said that each hospital is free to make their own decisions. It should be reminded that the deadline given by the HIO for the hospital’s expression of interest to negotiate is the 14th of February.



Retroactive payment for state doctors

State specialised doctors will be paid by the end of March, at the latest for the services they provided in the GHS framework from 1 June 2019 until today. This is a temporary measure that will be in place until the completion of the negotiation which started yesterday between the Unions and the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) and aims to achieve an agreement on the value of the incentives that will be given to the doctors for both outpatient and inpatient care services. Moreover, according to everything recorded in Wednesday’s meeting, in the case where the incentives agreed are higher than the ones they will receive retroactively, they will be compensated. It is reported that the amount that will be given to the doctors, will be based on OKYPY’s decision which had been rejected last December. The money will be derived from the budget line will be taken from the Organisation’s budget, concerning the incentives of the doctors.



PASYKI is concerned over the second phase of the GHS

PASYKI (state doctors associations) and OKYPY (state health services) met on Wednesday, to discuss the planning for the second phase of the GHS. PASYKI president Sotiris Koumas said they are at the point where they are discussing specific numbers, which is a positive development. He also said that mistakes in the past should act as a lesson going forward, and that state hospitals need to be organised as best as possible so they are prepared for the second phase of the GHS which includes inpatient care. On his part, OKYPY spokesperson Pampos Charilaou expressed hope for a conclusion to the discussion concerning doctors soon.

 

BAT Hellas named Global Top Employer

In the last two years, British American Tobacco (BAT) Hellas has offered around €4m in bonuses and other important benefits to its human resource. The company has been awarded top prize in employment in Greece and Europe, while continuing its dynamic presence with significant investments in potentially reduced risk products such as the heated tobacco product glo. BAT Hellas was named Global Top Employer as a recognition of its human resource practices, which focus on developing and evolving its people. An important action which demonstrates the company’s commitment to continue investing in its human resource in Greece, is the Global Graduate Programme; an innovative high-level training programme for university graduates, which beyond work experience, provides ongoing support and coaching by experienced company executives and training at the International BAT Academy. Meanwhile, the company’s investment in transforming the industry and significant investment in potentially reduced risk products – the heated tobacco glo product and vaping Vype product – have contributed significantly to the creation of new jobs and to the strengthening of the Greek economy.

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