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Daily Press Review – 26/6/2019

In the press today:

Reforms should happen now, no time for complacency

As above, Phileleftheros’ article reports on Hellenic Bank’s Economic Research Department report, and focuses on Hellenic’s comments that despite the better than expected performance of the economy, we shouldn’t be complacent and we shouldn’t relax the effort to implement reforms. The he implementation of important structural reforms will help to strengthen the competitiveness of the Cypriot economy. Important reforms which are still outstanding relate to the implementation of the privatization agenda, along with reforms in key areas such as the Public Administration and local government, the justice system and education.

Uncertainties and risks

As above, Politis’ article reports that Hellenic’s report for the first six months of 2019, records the uncertainties that could potentially threaten the economy. There are still issues that need to be immediately solved, such as the high level of NPLs, the high unemployment rate and the high private and public debt, which are however steadily decreasing. As it concerns the external challenges these are mostly related to lower than expected growth rates in Europe and the world economy, due to the increasing tensions between USA and China, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the devaluation of the pound. Moreover, the deterioration of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region, could potentially negatively impact economic confidence in tourism and therefore, economic activity as a whole. On the other hand, geopolitical tensions in neighbouring countries, make Cyprus a safer tourist destination and thus could compensate for the potential reduction of tourism flows from the UK.

Hellenic Bank’s extraordinary meeting

Politis reports that Hellenic Bank’s extraordinary meeting is taking place this morning at 11 am. The bank is called to decide on the procedure of selecting the Board members, so that each annual general meeting – which this year will take place on 24 July – all the members of the board are available for re-election. Today’s extraordinary meeting is one more benchmark towards the establishment of a new Board, that will reflect the share structure of the bank.

Government bond yields at historically low levels

Politis reports that two out of the eight international bonds issued by the Republic of Cyprus, are recording negative returns, while the 10-year Cypriot bond (expiring in 2028), remains at extremely low levels, at around 0.60%. The other two bonds are also close to recording negative yields. The Cypriot government bonds are still positively affected by the investor turn to Eurozone bonds, after a series of statements by the president of the ECB, Mario Draghi and other Central bankers, that there will be a new monetary intervention if this is deemed necessary. The article also goes on to report on Hellenic Bank’s economic review for the first semester 2019, that economic recovery along with improved local financial conditions have created and maintained a climate of strong economic confidence.

Changes in the local and global environment and the potential for new services

Since the start of the 1990s, Cyprus has been established as one of the most attractive financial hubs of the wider region. In the past few years, there have been great changes in the financial, geopolitical and legal environment of Cyprus as well as other countries, with whom Cyprus is trading. Furthermore, the March 2013 events marked a dramatic change in the financial environment of Cyprus and affected the liquidity of Cypriot banks. The financial sector was stabilized with the 2013 consolidation, the subsequent recapitalisations, as well as the Co-op-Hellenic Bank deal, and the transfer of its good business (deposits, network of branches and personnel) to Hellenic Bank. Another positive development was the sale of an substantial NPLs portfolio to Bank of Cyprus. The banks are adequately capitalised, while the systemic banks of the country are directly regulated by the ECB. The author concludes by saying that we must continue to push for the transfer of physical headquarters to Cyprus (headquartering) as well as further promote Cyprus’ service sector to new markets, apart from the traditional markets (Russia and Europe), such as Asia, China, Africa, Middle East as well as the wider Arabic world.

Banks intensify lobbying against decision to change foreclosures law

Phileleftheros reports that the banks have lobbying very actively, due to the intention of opposition parties to change the legal framework on foreclosures. 24 hours before the discussion of the five bills at the House Finance Committee, the banks intensified their actions in order to convince opposition MPs to change their minds. Already, bank executives met with some parties and explained the potential risks that the banking system and the Cypriot economy will face, in the case where the opposition reverses the foreclosures law. They already met with DISY, AKEL and DIKO. DIKO was one of the parties co-signing the latest bill that was submitted to the House a few weeks ago. In the next few days, the banks are expected to meet with the rest of the parties which also submitted bills.

ETYK want to keep union’s health fund

The Bank employees union is intending to keep its health fund, as they have stressed in a relevant circular. With its circular, they call on the bank employees to register to a personal GHS doctor, both for their own interest as well as the success of the system. At the same time, they clarify that ETYK’s health fund will operate at the same time as the GHS. “The GHS is a reality, which has been decided and is being implemented by the state with a view to contribute to society; as such, this is the framework in which we will be operating from now on…We also believe that since we are a category of employees, which along with others, will be the main contributors to the GHS, it is only fair that we make use of everything that the GHS can offer us”, the announcement underlines. The announcement went on to encourage bank employees to register with a GP. At the same time, the announcement stresses that the union is determined to fight in order to maintain its Health Fund, with a view to make it operate in concert and as a safety net for the colleagues, thereby ensuring their health.

Leaders of European Aviation Industry in Cyprus

Leading executives and representatives of European airports and airline companies are meeting in Cyprus, in the framework of the ACI Europe Annual Assembly & Congress, organised for the first time in our country by Hermes Airports. This is the biggest conference in the European aviation industry, and this year will focus on the modern theme “Transform or die – Airports & the Sustainability Challenge”, paving the way for significant changes in order to implement sustainable practices in airports. Some of the speakers include the head of IAG, Ryanair, EasyJet, Heathrow and other big companies of the aviation industry.  There are many events planned over the course of the congress, but importantly, the fifth and final session will discuss Sustainable Tourism. The Deputy Ministry of Tourism will participate in the session, and Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios will give an address, while other speakers include Andrea Geretto (Head of Commercial & Marketing Non-Aviation of SAVE SpA – Venice Airport) and Lazaros Charalambous (Commercial Manager of DP World Limassol).

Decommissioned due to high costs

The historic ship “Lambousa” did not berth at the Limassol port this year, because of high maintenance costs. The Mayor of Limassol told Politis that the maintenance of this historic ship is very costly, amounting to a few thousand euro, and he said they are searching for other ways of making use of the ship as an artifact, whether that is in or out of water.

Paphos promotes a Marine-life Museum

A marine-life museum, one of the many projects discussed over the last years for the tourist area in Paphos, is now being seriously considered, however only after Ayia Napa took the initiative for the same project. The purpose of a Marine Life Museum in Paphos, is to show to visitors the centuries-old connection of the city with the sea and its relationship with marine life.

Tourism plays a pivotal role

In 2018, Cyprus achieved a new record in the tourism industry which positively impacted other sectors, such as transport, trade, accommodation etc. In 2018, tourist arrivals reached 3,9 million compared to the 3,7 million in 2017, recording a 7,8% increase while also exceeding the number of arrivals ever recorded in Cyprus in the course of 1 year. These results were due to the expansion of the tourist period, the improved flight connectivity and stronger competition with the neighbouring countries. Tourism will continue to play a pivotal role in the future of the Cypriot economy. Our island has many advantages, that if utilized correctly will help the sector continue working as a driving factor for growth.

Hoteliers are counting their losses

The tourism industry in the Famagusta area will face challenges in July and August. Already, June of this year recorded a decrease of 5-7% in hotels and authorized tourist accommodation in Ayia Napa and Protaras, compared to June of last year. Hoteliers state that they will be satisfied if they manage to contain their decrease under 10%.

Cyprus Casinos brings you one step closer to a career in entertainment

Numerous career opportunities have been announced by Melco, the company behind City of Dreams Mediterranean, Europe’s first integrated casino resort (ICR), for those who are interested in a career in the entertainment industry. After one year of continuous operations, Cyprus Casinos “C2” already employs more than 800 people, the vast majority of them Cypriot citizens, as the company continues to grow with the upcoming launch of two more satellite casinos, C2 Ayia Napa and C2 Paphos.

Growth of the real estate sector and a new development in Limassol

The real estate sector, based on the upward trend of the previous years, continues its progress year after year. Luxury properties with high specifications have attracrted special investment interest, with sales in this category amounting to €500m in 2018. The article goes on to report on Citrine Estates, a new luxury project in Limassol. It is a contemporary residential and commercial project, which is located in close proximity to the casino-resort City of Dreams Mediterranean.

GHS doctors set up their own association

Phileleftheros reports that, all of GHS’ issues – both practical and technical – have been noted by health professionals and organized patients. These brought up yesterday, during the first broad conference which was held in the Health Minister’s office, in the presence of the HIO and representatives of all the involved parties. Doctors overprescribing, medicine shortages in the private sector, difficulties in recording referrals, problems with the software are some of the problems raised by health professionals. Clinical laboratories expressed concerns that the operation of health centres that offering lab work will burden the viability of simple labs of the private sector. At the same time, GPs stress that there was increased demand and workload during the first weeks. However, they concluded that the workload has gradually been reduced, as seniors and the people suffering from chronic illnesses required immediate assistance but were satisfied over the first couple of weeks. Moreover, the Health Minister has been carrying out unannounced visits to health centres, labs, pharmacies and doctor offices since last week, in order to obtain information directly about the problems that health professionals encounter in their daily lives. He stated that “the purpose of these visits is to record these problems for quick and efficient solution”. During the last two weeks, the doctors who are registered within the GHS are in the process of creating their own association. Dr. Vasos Economou stated that “it appears that there is a need to create a body that will be responsible for our representation in medical matters both within and outside the GHS”. Any official announcements are expected within the next few weeks.

New board of directors

The new board of directors of the Insurance Association of Cyprus held their first meeting on Thursday, 20 June 2019. They discussed issues that concern the insurance industry and possible ways of responding to the challenges that the industry is facing at the moment. The recent developments in the GHS, under-insurance and the complementary role of the insurance industry in retirement plans.

Smoking for the two genders

Smoking increases the risk of a myocardial infraction for both genders regardless of age, but the risk is significantly higher for female smokers, especially those under the age 50, compared to male smokers. If a woman quits smoking, the risk is reduced so rapidly, that in just one month the risk level can be comparable to that of an individual who has never smoked. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of mortality in both women and men globally, smoking constitutes a cardiovascular risk and approximately 50% of these incidents can be attributed to it. Relevant research indicated that smoking increases the risk of a myocardial infraction at a far greater degree in women who smoke (regardless of age) than their male counterparts.