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Daily News Review – 13/12/2018

In today’s press:

Former CCB branches dressed in Hellenic colours

All the elements that once used to characterise the co-operative movement are slowly but surely being erased, and being replaced by the Hellenic Bank logo. The company HB has assigned to change the logos of the bank branches has already completed its work on 14 branches, and will now get to work on the next batch. Customers of the former CCB are watching the banks they once knew change colour but also character. Phileleftheros’ sources said that nine branches have so far been transformed in Nicosia; one in Limassol, one in Larnaca, one in Paralimni and two in Paphos. HB acquired 172 Co-op shops in total and closed down 75. All the transformations are expected to be completed by mid-2019. Meanwhile, there is also an increase in the shops offering branch-in-branch operations; five branches are already serving both HB and CCB customers. The paper reminds that HB is expected to announce its nine-month results on 19 December. It also appointed PwC to investigate the extent of the negative goodwill from the acquisition, which has been completed and the bank has now forwarded to its advisers KPMG for assessment.

Speeches with strong doses of Cyprus problem and… populism

Alithia newspaper reports on the House Plenary debate that began yesterday on the 2019 state budget, which saw the political leaders once again repeat their positions on the Cyprus problem and at times fall in the “trap” of being populist. What was clear was the parties’ intentions to vote against, freeze or table amendments for a series of funds. Among other, the paper refers to the statements by AKEL General Secretary Andros Kyprianou, who said that the Nicos Anastasiades administration and ruling DISY insist on supporting an economic model that leads to bubbles, and that they are only interested on selling off public wealth and semi-government organisations. A characteristic example of this is the privatisation of Limassol port, he said. Kyprianou also referred to the Co-op, saying its dissolution was not something that just happened, but that was manipulated, with a criminal agreement that gave it to Hellenic Bank with state funding and burdened society with billions in losses.

Curtains drawn, with emotion

Politis newspaper reports on yesterday’s final session of the Committee of Inquiry for the Co-op, leading off with a quote by former Co-op executive Erotokritos Chlorakiotis that, “The Co-op gave an ocean of contribution to the country, without me wanting to undermine the mistakes or the offences”. Chlorakiotis, the final witness to testify, attempted to showcase the non-profit character of the Co-operative movement and the consequences this approach had on its operation.

Another €30m to the fund

The government yesterday “cemented” the passing of the budget for the Solidarity Fund, which will be used to compensate those who suffered losses in the 2013 haircut, with a last-minute amendment, which was a demand of opposition DIKO, for extra support to the Fund through the regular and not a supplementary budget, as was the initial plan. Specifically, the Cabinet approved additional credit of €30m and the relevant amendment was sent to the House for approval.

Alternative options for investors

Given the fact that deposit rates have dropped significantly in recent years, many non-professional investors have stopped focusing on the traditional way of maximising their capital, which is by depositing money at the banks, and are instead seeking out alternative ways to invest their money. The president of CFA Society Cyprus, Marios Georgiades, said that there are other ways to invest, such as the real estate sector and the financial markets with shares, bonds and mutual capital that is exposed to companies of the global economy. He also said investing in Cypriot bonds was a reliable option.

Impromptu work stoppage at Limassol port

According to the site’s sources, around 70 port workers have gathered outside the offices of the Cyprus Ports Authority at Limassol port, to protest about their collective agreements and the fact that they have not received pay rises.

Civil society group waiting for Archbishop’s answer

A Civil society group for the right to housing, applied to the Church for the concession a plot in Limassol for the creation of a Homeless Shelter. The application was submitted at a meeting that three members of the group had with the Archbishop. Specifically, three plots of land were proposed, located in Kalogirous, Ayia Fyla and Polemidia. As the head of the group told Politis, the Archbishop listened to them with attention and told them that he would get back to them in two days. The Minister of Labour, is looking into ways so that the State takes up the shelter’s operation and staffing.

Paphos construction workers green-lit strike action

Construction workers in Paphos green-lit strike action yesterday, sending the message to the Federation of Associations of Building Contractors that they should respect the agreed-upon clauses and called its members to implement the Collective Agreement. Following construction workers in Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia, yesterday Paphos construction workers authorised the Trade Union councils to proceed to take measures when deemed necessary, in order to implement the agreed-upon clauses and defend the rights of the workers. 

€25m development at Beau Rivage

Phileleftheros reports that in place of the long-abandoned Beau Rivage and on a nearby 33m2-plot, a luxury 5-star hotel and luxury villas and apartments will be built on the Pyla coast. Commenting on relevant information, community leader Simos Mytides, reported that the responsible company behind the development is a company with American and Cypriot interests, while the development’s total cost will be around €25m.

Protest against Metropolis Mall

Citizens and shop-owners in Larnaca, in cooperation with the Green Party organised a protest against the erection of the Metropolis Mall in their city. The protest took place, next to KEN where the new mall will be built. Union of small shopkeepers POVEK is against the creation of the shopping mall, supporting that it will deal a huge blow to the turnover of shops located in the city’s commercial centre. Protesting citizens argue that the Mall will likely create traffic problems and noise pollution. The Green Party is also against the development, mentioning that it will constitute an environmental disaster since hundreds of years-old trees will be cut-off. Metropolis Mall is expected to start its operation in the summer of 2020 and will include around 100 shops, a supermarket, a café-restaurant, a cinema and more than a thousand parking spaces.

Paphos hotels bookings at 80% during Christmas period

Bookings for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, are expected to rise to satisfactory levels in Paphos, according to the president of the Paphos Hotels Association President, Thanos Michaelides. In a statement, to Cyprus News Agency, he said that bookings are expected to be around 80%, while he noted that there is increased interest from the local market. Michaelides said that he is worried about 2019 because the Russian market has showed no signs of recovering.

Quality of Health System depends on medicines as well

Article by KEFEA President Kyriakos Mikellis, in which he points out, among other, that the implementation of the system must ensure that all Cypriot patients have access to quality healthcare services and effective and safe medicines. Ensuring access to new innovative treatments is crucially important for the system to be a success, he said, adding that it is also important that every citizen is immediately aware of the improvement to the services provided, as they will now be contributing financially as well. He goes on to lay out the criteria KEFEA believes should be met in order for the GHS to be a success.

Contracts are expected for state hospitals’ autonomisation to proceed

Employees’ trade-unions in state hospitals are expecting proposals and explanations from the Organisation of State Healthcare Services (OKYPY). Contracts that the organisation will offer to employees in state hospitals are the key point of discussion. The specific issue concerns and affects mainly temporary healthcare professionals mainly working at the hospitals, since OKYPY promises to offer tempting contracts but also incentives in order to persuade them to transfer from the public service to an autonomous organisation.

In the courts

The Cyprus Medical Association did not send the Health Minster and HIO its letter on the convergences and divergences of the two sides regarding the GHS yesterday as expected. Politis newspaper’s sources say there are differing views among the doctors over the CMA’s decision to resort to justice over the issue of practicing private medicine under the GHS. Many of those who disagree are paediatricians, the majority of whom held a hostile stance against the GHS up until recently. Either way, the majority of the CMA board has decided that the matter will be taken to court.

Collaboration between European University Cyprus and pharmaceutical law specialist Dr Sophia Angelou

European University Cyprus has announced that it has started a collaboration with lawyer Sophia Angelou, who specializes on pharmaceutical law. To mark the launch, it organized a workshop entitled: “Pharmacy: Legal aspects of the profession in Greece and Cyprus”.

Football players’ heart problem case overturned

The case involving two football players who faced heart issues believed to have been caused by medication they were administered by their clubs, has been overturned. One of the two players, Panayiotis Loizides, who had reported the case to Larnaca’s police headquarters, announced on social media that further specialised medical tests carried out abroad have shown that there is in fact no heart problem, and he is fit to return to the football grounds. This led to the relevant police investigation being closed.

Assurances that glyphosate is not cancerous

Glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer to humans, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis responded to MP George Perdikis, explaining that this was the conclusion of Germany as well as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) that investigated the matter. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) concluded on 15 March 2017 that glyphosate’s classification as cancerous is not justified.