Free online money transfers
By using Hellenic Bank’s Web Banking and Mobile App, its customers can carry out free money transfers of up to €1,000 to Cyprus and Eurozone banks. The two online apps help customers complete their transactions faster and free of charge. Charges did apply with the old pricing policy. In an announcement, HB stresses that the regulation is “especially favourable for customers who regularly transfer money abroad, as for example students’ parents”. The use of the banks’ digital means will become a must. By acquiring access to their accounts, cards and loans via Web Banking, HB’s customers can carry out their transfers safely and without problems, but also have control over their account balances and transactions at any given time. Another simple and smart version for bank transactions is offered through the Mobile Banking app, which allows users to monitor their accounts whatever their location, and safely transfer money. For more details, HB customers can visit the bank’s website.
Hellenic Bank and ANT1 – Together for the grand eSports event
Hellenic Bank in cooperation with ANT1 present E2K19, the biggest eSports event ever to be organised in Cyprus, on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December. The two-day even is for online gaming lovers. With three arenas, four games and awards exceeding €8,000, the Royal Hall in Nicosia where the event will be hosted is expected to be packed.
Toques d’Or awards, spectacular ceremony
Best Cyprus restaurants were announced yesterday, November 11, in a glamorous ceremony for the prestigious Toques d’Or awards (Golden Caps) at Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol. The official dinner was curated by top Milanese chef Carlo Cracco. The awards were presented by Hellenic Bank and organised by “Athenorama” and the Phileleftheros Group.
Elderly man swindled out of €9,600 for fake roof insulation
A second case of elderly people being conned into paying for roof insulation work that never took place came to light on Monday, just days after another incident had been reported. Following a case of an elderly man who was defrauded of nearly €10,000 by people pretending to insulate the roof of his home in Polemidia, an elderly couple reported to Limassol police on Monday that they had paid €3,000 for the same job to people, who then disappeared without carrying out any work. In statements, Limassol CID chief Ioannis Soteriades said in both cases the perpetrators appear to be the same, acting in an organised manner and using “methods we are investigating”. On Thursday, two men accompanied by a woman and a child visited the house of an 83-year-old man and asked if he wanted them to insulate the roof. The home owner agreed and gave the men €600 as a down payment for the purchase of the necessary materials. They returned the same day and started working. A few hours later they reported they had completed the job. The two men demanded €10,000 for their work and after negotiating, the 83-year-old man paid them €9,000 before they left. The victim told police that when the unknown men, whom he described as 25 to35-years-old, asked for the money they took him in a green saloon car to a Hellenic Bank branch to get the cash. The elderly man only later realised he had been defrauded after inspecting the roof and discovering only a small part had been insulated, for which materials worth no more than €100 had been used. Police are looking for the two men. Soteriades has urged the public, especially the elderly, to be cautious and take care not to be taken in by con artists. (The news item is also reported in cyprus-mail.com, Politis, Haravgi and Cyprus Mail but without specifying the name of the bank)
12th Graduation Ceremony of the Open University of Cyprus
860 graduates of the 26 undergraduate and postgraduate courses of the Open University of Cyprus finished their studies during the 2018-2019 academic year and received their diplomas at the 12th Graduation Ceremony, which took place on 8 November 2019 in Nicosia. The graduates’ academic excellence was sealed with monetary prizes by the President of the Republic, Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank, the Cyprus Police, Hellenic Petroleum of Cyprus, Vassiliko Cement Works, the Ioannides & Demetriou law firm, KOED, the Timios Stavros private clinic and CYMEPA.
Bank charges and politicians
Opinion editorial by reporter Panicos Charalambous, who writes among other that politicians may be reacting over the banks’ plans to increase their charges, however it is not the upcoming charges that are the problem, but the existing ones, some of which are already very steep. Like for example the charges to pay utility bills, which in some cases exceed 10%-15%. If for example a pensioner has to pay a €15 water bill, he also has to pay €2 to carry out the transaction at the bank register. And the problem is not as simple as it is being presented, as in the parliament will impose a cap on the charges for vulnerable groups and the problem will be fixed. It has to do with the banks’ expenses and income. The Cyprus banks’ expenses are disproportionate to their size and the country’s population. It has to do with the pre-2013 bubble and the post-2013 decisions. It has to do with the holes that led to the banking system’s collapse, the tolerance the state has always shown to the banks and the co-op, the lack of tools to recover loans, and especially the involvement of the political world in the economic and banking system.
The decisions have been made, problem with fines
The Commerce Ministry has been on hold for years over 50 cases where the Consumer Protection Service ruled that abusive charges were imposed. During yesterday’s House Finance Committee session, where the Commerce Ministry’s budget was discussed, it was mentioned that the Service issued these decisions regarding abusive charges by land developers, but there is a delay in cases of abusive charges by the banks at the expense of borrowers. MPs were told that due to delays by the Law Office to decide over the bank-related cases, these are not being led to court. Committee Chairman Angelos Votsis said this was a scandal. “For three years now, the Law Office, invoking its workload, is not issuing a decision, which will then be submitted to court so fines can be imposed,” he said. He added that if the Office is facing staffing problems, then it should seek parliament’s assistance to fill the positions.
From one hole to another
Phileleftheros comments that a hole opened when land developers took out loans that they never paid back to the banks. In order to fill this hole, the solution of golden passports was introduced. And while the problem with the developers’ NPLs was solved, another hole opened with the passports. The economy cannot be saved like this, as there will always be an open hole, the paper reasons.
No stone left unturned
The role of the three-member committee that will be appointed by the Cabinet to investigate the issuing of Cypriot passports in exchange for investment is not just to examine the findings of the new probes that will be carried out, Inferior Minister Constantinos Petrides told Politis. Responding to criticism from the opposition, the minister said the committee will also have an obligation – when spotting disciplinary or criminal offences in the issuing of such passports, even by mediators who may have concealed details of interested investors – to inform the relevant authorities so legal action can be taken against them.
Sewerage: Fines to anyone refusing to connect
Phileleftheros reports that various Sewerage Boards are adopting approved regulation to impose out-of-court fines on property owners who refuse to be connected to the sewerage system, following failed appeals and requests made to them from time to time. This provides an incentive to those who refuse to be connected, to move forward with the procedure. The newspaper also reports that the Minister of Agriculture, Costas Kadis, updated the House on projects launched by the Sewerage Board of Limassol for the next 5 years and their cost exceeds €80m. The area controlled by the board includes the entire urban Limassol area, along the coastal area of the new Limassol port up until the Moni area. In more detail, these projects will be launched in the next 5 years; the first project, which will cost approximately €9m, involves the construction of a pumping station next to the new Limassol port along with pressure and gravity pipelines in order to serve the new areas which will be connected to the system. A second project of approximately €11m involves the construction of a pumping station and main pipeline between Limassol Marina and the new Limassol port on Aktaia street to service new flows from existing areas that are already connected or will be connected to the system. Other projects include construction of a sewerage system in more isolated areas and flood prevention works.
Minister of Energy: ‘Energy companies’ actions speak for themselves’
Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, in his statements following the presentation of his ministry’s budget to the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, referred to the recent developments with the Aphrodite deposit exploitation and the other energy companies’ drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and said that these actions speak for themselves. The Minister referred to the agreements signed last week with the company consortium on the exploitation of the Aphrodite deposit, and said that despite any commercial, technical or political issues that may arise, with the right of the Republic of Cyprus if certain landmark actions are not met within the timeframe, to terminate the contract. He went on to say that “The fact that drilling contracts are already signed, the fact that according to ExxonMobil Vice President’s statements at least two confirmatory drilling are planned in 2020, I think that these actions speak for themselves of the intention of the companies to proceed as planned, without underestimating the difficulties or challenges that we are constantly facing mainly from Turkey, “he said. Speaking at the meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr. Lakkotrypis explained the new agreements signed with the consortium of companies for Block12 and the Aphrodite deposit, and the calculation of revenue for the Republic on the basis of oil price scenarios. He also referred to an extensive drilling program that is expected to begin soon, in the most interesting targets. Responding to questions from members of parliament, the Minister said that in its overall plans, the Government is looking at other options with regard to the new natural gas field discoveries such as ‘Calypso’ and ‘Glaucus-1’. The choices he said, are the EastMed pipeline, the liquefaction terminal and the liquefaction floating unit. He added that much will depend on the drilling.
2020: the year of drillings in the Cyprus EEZ
The article states that according to the announcements of the licensed companies in the Cyprus EEZ, 2020 will be the year of drillings. The drill ship to be used by the Eni-Total consortium is already in the eastern Mediterranean, while at the same time ExxonMobil announced two new confirmatory drillings at the ‘Glaucus-1’ target. The Delek-Shell-Noble energy consortium is preparing for a new drilling at the ‘Aphrodite’ deposit. In particular, the Eni-Total consortium is preparing to start drilling in the early months of 2020, within the licensed blocks. It is almost certain that Eni and Total will carry out confirmatory drilling in Block 6 and the ‘Calypso’ target to confirm the results of the previous drilling. In total, the consortium operates in seven Blocks in the Cyprus EEZ, Blocks, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11. With regard to Block 10, ExxonMobil is expected to carry out two confirmatory drillings in 2020 in order to confirm the huge discovery at the “Glaucus-1” deposit. The company is already proceeding to obtain the required permits that will allow it to proceed with the confirmatory drilling.
Ankara on the EU decision on sanctions
Turkey on Monday reiterated a vow to defend its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in response to plans by the European Union to impose restrictive measures on the country which it called a threat. “We have repeatedly and strongly emphasized that in the Eastern Mediterranean, we will not cease to protect our rights stemming from international law and rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots, despite all of the unintelligible steps of the European Union,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The decisions taken today at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council meeting clearly demonstrate that our messages following Council meetings of July 15 and October 14, 2019, have completely fallen on deaf ears,” it said. The ministry stressed that from 2004 until today, Turkey and the TRNC have made benevolent efforts to turn the hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean into an element of stability rather than tension as the side having taken all the constructive and positive initiatives. The ministry said the Greek Cypriot administration and the EU, which it pushed maximalist approaches, neither can perceive the facts nor take decisions in accordance with international law and the principle of equity in this process. The ministry highlighted that the bloc lost its impartiality a long time ago and proved that it cannot take a constructive and helpful role in the issue. “It is a vain expectation for those who think that Turkey will bow to threats and back down on its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry added. “No one should doubt that we will continue our exploration and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“Hotels4Climate” programme begins
The Industrialists and Employers Federation (OEB), the Institute of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (INSETE) and the non-profit consultancy adelphi participate in the European programme Hotels4Climate whose goal is to facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions in the hotel sector of Greece and Cyprus. The project is co-financed by the German climate funds (European Climate Initiative). The whole effort is coordinated by OEB. The programme aims to determine the carbon emissions in hotels of four and five stars and provide them with the necessary tools to act in order to reduce carbon emissions. The project’s actions include, among other things, to record the current situation in the hotel sector of Cyprus and Greece as it comes to conserving energy and CO2 emissions, choosing good practices, skills development and staff training workshops on reducing CO2 emissions and saving energy as well as the creation of a database for information exchange.
Bill for pools without bathrooms and changing rooms
A bill was submitted yesterday to the House Internal Affairs Committee, according to which tourist and other integrated developments can maintain pools without the requirement of changing rooms and bathrooms. An official of the Town-Planning Department, commenting on the bill submitted by EDEK MP Elias Myrianthous said the following: “According to the legal provisions, public pools need to have bathrooms and changing rooms and maintain a certain distance from the border etc.” By changing the definition of the term swimming pools, as this is defined in the bill, essentially the obligation for bathrooms/changing rooms and distance is circumvented etc. Certain officials have reacted against this bill as they that it overextends the legislation. The head of the Health Services Alvertos Karis expressed his disagreement with the new bill as it provides for the automatic renewal of the license for swimming pools. “The annual inspection by our Service and the issuance of a certificate is a necessary precondition for the issuance of a License of Operation, we believe will serve as substantial leverage for the implementation of any deficiencies/omissions that may be identified during the checks. The Chairman of PASYXE, Haris Loizides reported that while many hotels went through all the checks, since they have certain differences with the Town-Planning Authority, they are not issued a license. He added that the tour operators are asking for specific pools, but in some cases the procedures can take years and this is something that discredits Cyprus. He added that in some cases – in hotels with a small number of rooms per pool – the legal requirement for the number of bathrooms and lifeguards is unreasonable. He concluded that he support the approval of the bill, which as he said focuses on matter of health and safety which are essential.
Opposition to Polis Chrysochous centre revamp
The experts tasked with designing the revamp of the historical centre of Polis Chrysochous have met hesitations and reactions. The hesitations come from some municipal consultants who are affected by the reactions of private actors, who don’t like the comprehensive revamp of the historical centre as proposed by the experts. The matter has been discussed at the Municipal Council many times, but no majority was formed so as to adopt the plans that foresee, among other things, the demolition of the building that used to house the Municipal Market. The building has not been used for the past 15 years, and the experts argue that demolishing it will double the total area of the square, integrating it with other vital areas in the east side, thereby giving the area some breathing space. The demolition was met with opposition by certain stakeholders who argue that the building can be exploited in other ways. The experts also suggest pedestrian and one-way streets that will essentially connect the historical square with the parking space opposite the historical Ayios Nicolaos church and the Griva Digeni boardwalk. In addition, they argue for the revamp of at least the facades of these buildings, with the consent of their owners. The project will cost €3m and will include the underground routing of all services, building a drainage and rainwater system, creating sidewalks and installing city equipment.
Miliou wins Destinations of Excellence competition
The European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) competition was successfully completed under the theme Health and Well-being Tourism and was organised by the Deputy Ministry of Tourism. Miliou in Paphos district was declared winner of the competition. According to a relevant press release, the winning destination was Miliou, a place that represents the theme of this year’s competition, as well as the community which is an up-and-coming and non-traditional tourist destination with low visitation, which provides tourist services and wellness activities supported by the natural resources of the destination. The programme European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) is implemented in the context of the COSME programme, which has been promoted by the Tourism Unit of the European Commission.
EDEK: Public sector is the backbone of GHS
EDEK’s goal is to make and maintain the public sector as the backbone of a proper General Health Scheme, the president of the Movement, Marinos Sizopoulos said. In statements after visiting the Larnaca General Hospital and meeting with Giorgos Karotsakis, Executive General Director of the Larnaca and Famagusta Hospitals, Mr Sizopoulos said that “as EDEK, we have underlined many times that the public sector is the backbone of the General Health System and mainly for the provision of upgraded healthcare of medical services to our citizens. “For this exact reason”, he added, “we are worried because the public sector presents serious problems, mainly lack of equipment as well as staff shortages in medicine and general positions”.
Multifaceted support for state hospitals
OKYPY and the Ministry of Health prioritise the upgrade of state hospitals in view of the second phase of the GHS, which will be implemented on the 1st of June 2020. The Minister of Health, Constantinos Ioannou confirms that the government is actively supporting the public hospitals because it recognises how important is their role. By continuously upgrading the buildings and the equipment, combined with investing in human capital, our goal is to improve the quality of services and the work environment of healthcare professionals, he told Alithia. At the same time, he repeats that the government, the Ministry and himself personally remained focused on implementing the reforms. Without hiding the existence of problems and deficiencies of many decades, we are convinced that the public health sector in Cyprus is at a very high level, the Minister adds, stressing that there must be a change in culture in terms of serving the citizen. “This is the biggest wager that we have been called to win and we will do everything that we can”, the Minister of Health supported. Two important matters relating to the preparations for the second phase of the GHS are still pending and are a matter of negotiation. The first is the developing dialogue between the Organisation of State Health Service (OKYPY) and the state doctors’ unions (PASYKI, PASYDY, PASESI), for the concession of incentives in order to prevent the departure of doctors from state hospitals. So far, it seems that there are differences between the two sides, in terms of the percentage claimed by doctors as additional compensation per medical act. The matter will be discussed today in an extraordinary meeting of OKYPY’s board and on Wednesday there will be a new meeting with the unions.
Heart surgeon Dr. Yakoub spoke at European University
The European University Cyprus School of Medicine organised the 7th International Multithematic Bio-Medical Congress, “Bio-Medical Scientific Cyprus”, under the general title: “Medical School: Resource of Science and Culture”. This unique three-day congress was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and the Pancyprian Medical Association. The opening ceremony took place on Thursday, 7 November at 14:00, while the congress concluded on Saturday, 9 November, 2019. The keynote speaker was the world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon professor Dr Sir Magdi Yakoub who analysed science’s search for the truth. This procedure, he reported, is constantly accelerated providing powerful tools, which are to a large extend used to the benefit of humanity. However, he warned that the process also has risks that must be monitored and mitigated.
Increased use of GHS in October
The usage of the services of the General Health System remained stable in October, with the biggest increase recorded in the number of visits to the doctors. As it comes to referrals to specialised doctors and radiodiagnostic centres, there was an increase in terms of absolute numbers, but when analysing this data there was stability. This stability was recorded in specific specialties for which directives have been implemented. This has resulted in cautious optimism in the HIO, which supports that with the full implementation of measures and directives, the system’s use will improve by the end of November. The HIO has been in non-stop negotiations with the different scientific societies participating in the determination of measures for the more efficient use of the GHS and protection of the system from abuse. As it comes to the October data, according to the information secured by Phileleftheros, there were 436,389 visits to doctors, while 188,693 referrals were issued to specialised doctors and radiodiagnostic centres.
T/C complaints over crossing points
According to Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Diyalog, passing through check points is a real hassle for T/C citizens, who criticise the T/C “authorities” that no efforts are being made to improve the situation. The long delays observed at crossing points are mainly attributed to the lack of staff, and they describe the crossing point at Agios Dometios as the worst due to the large number of visitors being checked daily. They warn the “authorities” that if they don’t take immediate action, they’ll be held responsible for depriving the T/C economy of the money G/Cs spend on fuel and cigarettes. In fact, people are saying “the “authorities” can’t handle one crossing point but they want to develop tourism and other sectors”, as checks by G/C authorities are completed much faster than T/C.