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Daily press review – 14-16/9/2019

In the press today:

“New” Hellenic Bank on Monday

The completion of the integration process of the former Co-op, with the transfer of the clients of the former Co-op to the systems and channels of Hellenic Bank will be finalised on Monday. The completion of the process marks the entry of Hellenic Bank into a new era, with the operation of a single organisation, following the absorption of a part of the former Co-op’s business and the transfer of a total 400.000 clients. The integration is achieved a year after officially taking up the Co-op’s business. The most important element is that the completion of the integration process, marks the end of the branch-in-branch process that Hellenic Bank followed right after acquiring the Co-op’s business. “With the completion of the systems and data integration, we will become a single bank serving our clients uniformly with the same systems and procedures from all the points of service (shops, business centres, electronic channels, ATMs etc.) It may be the most exciting period in the history of the bank, and the personnel has showed an unsurpassed decisiveness to bring the integration project into fruition”., the Senior Integration Director Phivos Leontiou told CNA.

Keravnos criticises ECB’s Draghi over deposit interest rate reduction

Makis Keravnos, Board Member of the Central Bank, former CEO of Hellenic Bank and former Minister of Finance, expressed his disagreement with the economic policy measures that the ECB announced this past week. As it is well-known, the ECB reduced the interest rate on deposits to 0.5%, applying more pressure on Cypriot banks, which have excess liquidity. Through his Twitter account, Makis Keravnos said that the theoretical models are correct for purposes of analysis, but they don’t always serve the real economy. “The measures that Mr Draghi recently decided, will merely conserve the crisis in Europe and as it comes to Cyprus, they will have a negative impact on the real economy”, said Makis Keravnos.

 Borrowers to join ESTIA could even have holiday homes

Phileleftheros reports that it may be that someone cannot pay back their loans, but they may own assets, including holiday homes, artwork and jewellery. This will be the case for some borrowers who will join the Estia scheme. If the borrowers meet the rest of the criteria, then they are eligible for Estia, even if they have additional assets such as holiday homes, jewellery and paintings. The beneficiaries of the Scheme are the borrowers who had NPLs as of 30 September 2017, collateralised on primary homes up to €350K and the rest of their assets do not exceed the 80% of the purchase value of their primary home, which cannot exceed €250K. This means that if a borrower who wasn’t paying back their loan, due to lack of pressure from the banks, but at the same time they were paying back their other loans as normal, they will now be eligible for Estia. This means that, not only will the specific borrower have a holiday home, but its primary home will also be protected. The state will pay 1/3 of their loan instalment. In the case of additional assets, the applicants will have to retrieve relevant certificates from the Land Registry department in order to determine the value of the properties from 2016-2019.

ETYK is standing closely by for NBG developments

Bank employees’ union, ETYK gave assurances to the employees of the National Bank of Greece that they have been observing developments relating to the future of the bank, saying that they will support their jobs and rights. The union commented on information and publications relating to the purchase of NBG Cyprus by AstroBank. Bank acquisitions and mergers are part of our daily live nowadays in this sector, and ETYK has been warning you about this for many years, the union’s circular reported, while ensuring that they are 100% ready to handle the developments.

Occupied areas, a Russian goldmine

The occupied areas of Cyprus have become a pole of attraction for Russian investors. Russian construction companies are also interested in the occupied areas, while Russian banks are already operating there. Following the revealing stories by Phileleftheros about the so-called Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus and various Russian tourist agencies, advertising trips to the occupied areas, the journalist Tatiana Derkatz, after conducting research on Russian websites and other sources, notes that for at least a decade now, the occupied areas have become a Klondike goldmine. Specifically, the journalist notes the following: there is now an “Association of Land Development Companies of Northern Cyprus”, whose mission is to promote and protect potential buyers and investors from Russian and CIS countries in the occupied areas.

 Bill to propose setting up independent committee for asset declaration checks

DIKO MP, Pavlos Mylonas submitted a bill for the amendment of a law governing the asset declarations of the President, the ministers, MPs and MEPs, since the second publication of asset declarations in mid-August proved to be an even bigger fiasco than the first. The bill aims to correct many legal issues, and mainly the fact that a House Committee is the competent authority to check the declarations, as it is made up from MPs who essentially perform checks on themselves (House President, MPs Tornaritis, Loukaides and deputy members Erotorkritou and Sizopoulos), while at the same time, they don’t have the necessary knowledge to perform such checks. With the bill, Mylonas, suggests that the declarations of the officials are submitted to a committee appointed by the Cabinet, which will be comprised by a reliable and credible lawyer, a representative of the Audit Office and a representative of the Law Office of the Republic. The aim is to have more effective and transparent checks, noted Mr Mylonas.

The state is looking to buy 14 buildings

The state is looking to buy buildings, judging that the millions of euros it has been spending on rent has gone to waste and that more permanent solutions should be found. In the framework of the state’s policy to house its offices in its own buildings, the Ministry of Finance calls on the property owners in various Muncipalities of Nicosia and Limassol to express interest in selling to the state by 13 October. As the Ministry reports, this is the first call, which includes 14 buildings that will house over 2 thousand employees. The 13 buildings must be located in Nicosia and 1 must be in Limassol. The call mentions square metres as well as parking spaces for the 14 buildings that concern the Ministry of Finance.

The financial crimes of the Cypriots

Forgery, false representations, criminal impersonation and fraud during the sale or mortgaging of a property, are the main crimes in the list with economic crimes. According to statistical data on criminality, from 2010-2018, the reports on economic crime amounted to 6.368, of which 5.754 were examined, a percentage of over 90%. Most of the reports were submitted in 2010, with their number amounting to 1.220. False representations and forgery were the most popular crimes this year. Every year, the number of crimes drops. In 2011, there were 1.033 cases, while in 2012 and 2013 there were 955 and 773 cases respectively. There was a drop in financial crime cases to 636 in 2014 and 583 in 2015. Over the past years, these dropped to 186 in 2016, 207 in 2018 and 169 in 2018.

 Bank of Cyprus to also start charging on large deposits

Kathimerini Economy reports that Bank of Cyprus was waiting for Draghi’s announcement in order to announce the charges on large deposits. The author argues that it was a better move in terms of communication than Hellenic Bank, which announced that it would start charging the big depositors. “There is no immediate plan or any decision. However, the general picture as this has been formed internationally, demonstrates that we are in an era with long-term low deposits and that the banks as well as their clients must adjust their plans for the future. This is not the picture of the Cyprus economy, but the world economy, said a representative of BoC.

 Banking sector is changing, smaller banks gaining ground

The banking sector game never stops. Despite 2019 not being over yet, the banking map of Cyprus is expected to change even more. It may be that the market is divided between the strong players of the sector, but this does not rule out however the existence of smaller, non-systemic banks which may want to increase their client base and become more competitive. The smaller banks are next in this process, through the disinvestment of some Greek banks from their subsidiaries outside of Greece. The latest development were the month-long negotiations between AstroBank and NBG Greece, for the acquisition of its subsidiary in Cyprus. Everything has changed in the banking sector, since the value of the banks has changed and the smaller banks have turned into acquisition targets. The closure of the Co-op brought big changes to the banking map with Hellenic Bank and the Bank of Cyprus being the only big players in the market, with the rest of the banks following from a distance, as it comes to size. Many of the smaller banks have had strong capital ratios and positive results in recent years. Their potential for expansion in retail banking is limited, since the specific market remains saturated and risky due to overlanding. Some of the smaller banks enjoy selective and specific development in subsectors of the banking sector, with higher rewards and lower risks such as private banking or wealth management for high net-worth individuals. As it comes to the deposits, the data shows that Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank are leading the way, with the excess liquidity they have. The Bank of Cyprus has deposits worth €16.8b and 35.19% market share and Hellenic Bank has deposits worth €14.7b (30.73%). Eurobank has a significant share (10.11%), as it managed to substantially increase its depositor base, mainly due to the developments at the Co-op. Alpha Bank’s share in deposits stands at 4.62% and RCB’s at 4.46%.

Consolidation is a one-way street

The Cypriot banks are expected to face a series of challenges, both as it comes to labour issues as well as their technological advancement and transformation. In a period where technology has been introduced in all the sectors of the economy, the banks and their services couldn’t be left outside of this transformation. Besides, low-cost operation is a one-way road for the country’s banks. This is because the Cypriot banks have one of the highest cost-to-income ratios in the Eurozone, at 70%, according to the Single Supervisory Mechanism. This has a negative effect on the financial results of the banks, which have entered a period of low profitability throughout Europe. It should be noted that the number of bank branches in Cyprus in 2014 stood at 615, while at the end of 2018, it stood at 386, recording a 40% drop. However, this is not the case for the number of employees working at the banks, which were reduced form 10.956 to 8.946 in the end of 2018, marking a 19% reduction. Moreover, the fact that the Co-op was acquired by Hellenic Bank, led to the acquisition of a number of branches from Hellenic Bank, creating additional pressures for the bank itself. Furthermore, it is imperative to reduce the number of branches, inevitably leading to a reduction in personnel. Older publications had reported that Bank of Cyprus will present an action plan aiming at reducing the bank’s expenses. It should be noted that the first six months of 2019, the bank’s expenses amounted to €208m, of which €112m related to personnel expenses and the remaining €84m were operational costs. The cost-to-income ratio stood at 63% compared with 56% in the previous year. The fact that the bank still employs many staff members is worrying, but the bank’s management has realised this and it is looking into putting forward another voluntary retirement plan.

 The new Hellenic Bank

Hellenic Bank is stronger on many levels, following the acquisition of the former Co-op, as it has the strongest capital adequacy ratio among the systemic banks of the island as well as the biggest network of retail bank branches. Specifically, its Capital Adequacy Ratio in the first semester of 2019 stood at 21.2% compared to the 17.7% it stood before the acquisition in December 2017. This is much higher than the minimum requirements of the Supervisory authorities, as well as the EU average. In view of these facts, Hellenic Bank seems absolutely ready to respond to new demands and challenges, supporting creditworthy Cypriot businesses and households. It has the funds to implement its strategy as well as the trust of the international and local organisations, as proven by the successful Share Capital Increase of €150m that was completed in March 2019. The organisation’s credibility is also supported due to the risk reduction in the bank’s balance sheet and business model, thereby protecting the clients’ deposits and creating value for its shareholders. The reduction of risk in the bank’s balance sheet, and its strong capital position, offer more flexibility and choice for the further reduction of the NPE ratio to a single-digit number. It should be noted that solving the NPE issue through the sale of NPEs as well as other organic solutions, is a main priority for Hellenic Bank. They aim to solve the problem quickly, using the flexibility provided by its strong capital position. Specifically, the NPE ratio was reduced from 53.3% in December to 26.7% in March 2019, while in the same period the NPL coverage ratio, was strengthened from 60-66%.

 The “New Hellenic Bank” has been launched

With the former Co-op customer accounts being transferred into the systems and channels of Hellenic Bank, the defunct Co-op has now been absorbed within Hellenic Bank. The completion marks the transition of Hellenic Bank into a new era, with the operation of a single banking organization following the merger of 400,000 customer accounts. The New Hellenic Bank has been established as the biggest retail bank in Cyprus, with the biggest network of branches and a balance sheet of €10.3b. What is important is that this puts an end to the branch-in-branch phenomenon which saw clients of the two banks forming two lines waiting to be serviced by a different set of employees. “With the integration of systems and data, we will be operating as one bank, ready to serve all our customers uniformly with the same systems and processes from all points of service (branches, business centres, online channels, ATMs, etc.), Fivos Leontiou, Hellenic’s chief integration officer told CNA. “This is perhaps the most exciting time in the bank’s history, and the staff are showing unparalleled determination to bring the integration project to a successful conclusion,” he added. Countdown to the integration of the two banking systems began on Friday morning, as branches closed to prepare for the new era. Hellenic has also terminated all Co-op online applications such as iBanking and mobile apps. Clients of the former Co-op will be able to use Hellenic’s online systems as of Monday 16 September, by following instructions available on Hellenic’s webpage https://www.hellenicbank.com/webinfo Co-op clients will be able to use their cards to withdraw cash and pay for goods during the weekend. Hellenic said Co-op clients will see their IBANs BIC codes change. The new codes will be available on their statements to be sent out on Monday. The Co-op deal included acquisition of a balance sheet totaling €9.3 bln, comprising of loans of €4.0 bln (€3.6 bln of performing loans and €400 mln of NPEs), Cyprus Government Bonds (“CGBs”) (€4.1 bln), cash (€1.0 bln), customer deposits (€8.8 bln) and certain other current liabilities and assets.

Land Registry director fires back at Auditor General

The Director of the Land Registry and the Auditor General entered an argument over the latter’s stubborn stance with regards to the big deviations in the value of properties, and specifically government-owned plots, for the re-evaluation of properties to 2018 prices, on the basis of the international standards followed by the Land Registry. In statements to Stockwatch, the Director of the Land Registry Andreas Socratous appeared to be obviously disappointed and disturbed by the Auditor General’s statements to the House, and called him to discuss the entire matter, and said that if we find that we have problems, we are more than happy to correct them. He also said that no institution or official is allowed to minimise the work of an entire department. Defending the work of the Land Registry, Socratous called on everyone to wonder what would happen if last year, on 3 September, the Land Registry was not in a position to proceed with the 50.000 mortgage transfers, that had to happen within a day, so that the former Co-op could be integrated into Hellenic Bank. “Nobody came out to say that the department had made it and informed 70.000 interested parties in only 10 days”.

 Bank services for communities    

Politis reports that AKEL has once again posed the matter of adequate banking services for the various communities. The spokesman of AKEL, Stefanos Stefanou said in statements yesterday that the communities have been complaining about the closure of the banks of the former Co-op. Yesterday, the community of Pelendri protested the closure of the Hellenic Bank branch, while about a month ago, the residents of Pachna and 20 other communities protested the closure of another branch, which served their region. ”It has become obvious that the closure of the Co-op was not only a financial crime, which was organised by the government in order to sell-off the Co-op to a private bank. It was at the same time the start of a backslide in the everyday life and development for dozens of communities, and especially the mountain regions”, Mr Stefanou said among other things, reporting that in light of the problems that have emerged and the protests of the communities, AKEL will bring the matter back to the House.

 The final blow

The absence of bank branches, especially in remote communities, creates a chain reaction of problems. AKEL’s MP, Costas Costa made shocking revelations after yesterday’s protest in Pelendri: “After Pissouri and Pachna, Hellenic Bank closed its branch in Pelendri. These decisions give the final blow to our villages, which have been troubled by urbanisation. These decisions came after the criminal agreement of the government with Hellenic Bank to sell-off the Co-op, without the safeguards for which we were once complaining about. Today, the historic community which is joined together with the Wine villages of Limassol, is in despair. We saw tears in the eyes of the grandfathers and grandmothers, who were repeatedly asking us how they would solve their problems, is a “punch to the stomach”. Some people however, are turning a blind eye to the situation.”

Security measures for cards intensify

Controls on the identification of credit card holders in electronic markets are intensifying, while other changes will apply in contactless payments through POS. On Saturday, a new regulation by the EU, specialises specific provisions of the community directive for PSD payments, changing certain aspects of paying by card. As it comes to contactless payments by card at POS, the card holder will have to use a PIN number in order to complete contactless payments, when these exceed a specific sum or number. In any case, the card holders have to follow the instructions of the POS terminal. As it comes to one-off payments in an e-commerce environment, the card issuer e.g. bank, electronic crime institution etc, will have to identify the holder and their transaction.

 Obligatory insurance for apartment buildings

One of the most interesting provisions of a bill submitted by Mavrides and Mavrou, stipulates that the administrative committee of an apartment building is obliged to insure the building, with a sum equal to its replacement value, for a period of 25 years and after the 25 years have passed, the insurance will apply on the market value of the building, in order to limit the phenomenon of submitting exaggerated insurance sums for older properties that are offered on low rent. According to the bill, in the case where the owner of a unit (apartment, store, office) rents it to another person, the tenant will be paying the administrative committee, but the sum will be taken out of the rent.

KEVE: free workshop for business development

On Thursday, 19 September 2019 KEVE is organising a free workshop for the sustainable development of businesses in Limassol. The workshop will inform participants on the sustainable business model which is based on the 3 pillars of sustainability (Environment, Society, Economy), while it will also offer practical guidance for the implementation of the specific model in every business/organisation that will participate in the workshop. Under the guidance of consultants, Michalis Maimaris and Philip Ammerman, participants will have the opportunity to examine the business model that they are already implementing in their business. The workshop will be held in English but interventions and discussions can also be held in Greek.

Increase of labour costs and hourly costs

Hourly labour costs rose by 2.7% in the euro area (EA19), by 3.1% in the EU28, by 5.2% in Cyprus and 2.1% in Greece, in the second quarter of 2019, compared with the same quarter of the previous year, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The two main components of labour costs are wages & salaries and non-wage costs. In the euro area, the cost of wages & salaries per hour worked grew by 2.7% and the non-wage component by 2.9% in the second quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the EU28, the costs of hourly wages & salaries rose by 3.1% and the non-wage component rose by 3.0% in the second quarter of 2019. In Cyprus and Greece the same rates are 3.1% and 16.2% and 2.5% and 0.9% respectively. In the second quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, hourly labour costs in the euro area rose by 2.1% in industry, by 2.4% in construction, by 2.9% in services and by 3.0% in the (mainly) non/business economy. In the EU28, labour costs per hour grew by 2.5% in industry, by 3.1% in construction and by 3.3% in both services and in the (mainly) non-business economy.

Cyprus and Italy hold joint search and rescue exercise

A JOINT Search and Rescue SAR Exercise titled was held yesterday within the Search and Rescue Region of Cyprus with the participation of SAR Units and Personnel from Cyprus and Italy The Italian Ship ITS ETNA a helicopter from 460 SQN of Air Command participated in the Aeronautical SAR Exercise under the operational control and coordination of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre JRCC Larnaca in close cooperation with the Italian Navy a JRCC says

Increase of seats and reduction of air fares

The article reports that intensive efforts are underway to increase airline seats to Athens expected to bring a balance in the ticket prices for the summer of 2020.  Airline companies are intending to increase flights.  At the same time, the Ministry of Transport is in consultations to attract additional airlines.

Interview – Casino: the next day

The fifth casino is expected to open its doors in Cyprus very soon. The Pafos satellite casino, comes to complete the puzzle of satellite casinos in our country. The temporary casino in Limassol opened its doors in the summer of 2018, while the satellite casinos in Nicosia and Larnaca also opened their doors in December 2018. This past July, the satellite casino in Ayia Napa was launched. Last summer, the number of visitors to the casinos exceeded the one-million milestone. The Property President of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos “C2” Craig Ballantyne, also said that the results from the operation of the casinos in Cyprus are positive. He also mentioned that the casinos, launched specific travel packages in cooperation with luxury hotels across Cyprus, in order to better serve customers from abroad.

Development planned on mortgaged plots

A new housing deevlopment is being planned in the wider district of Zakaki in Limassol, as the area evolves into one of the most developing areas on the island. The specific development however, differs from rest since the plot where the development will be built on, has been put up for sale by the receiver/manager and the tender procedure to auction it off has already started. The tender procedure is planned for the start of October, while the creditors will have the final say, as they have demands for the assets. The article also mentions that the employer of the project refers to the special characteristics of the area in its website, mentioning that the casino-resort that will open its doors in 2021, will be located in the distrcit.

Turning point for luxury projects

The tendency to luxury is the leading trend in the real estate market. According to the chairman of Property Valuators, the lack of available offices in the commercial sector, has hiked up rents. Moreover, he said that due to the financial difficulties of Cypriot companies, there is a trend to rent industrial properties. At the same time, he underlined that the shopping malls are the leaders of the retail sector. “The shopping malls have been established and I believe that their rule will become even stronger”, Talatinis commented. He also appreciates that there will be a slowdown in the construction of new hotel units. “While there may be renovations, there will be decline. If there is something missing from the market (for example a resort), then we will only see big projects. Regarding infrastructure projects (marinas and casinos), he commented that the external demand will play a leading role in fixing prices and upgrading regions.

Entrepreneurs concerned about possible no-deal Brexit

The Cypriot business world is concerned about the future of trade relations with the UK and especially in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The UK is Cyprus’ third biggest trade partner in the services sector. According to the British High Commission in Cyprus’ website, the main products that are exported to the UK are halloumi (€19m), potatoes (€7.3m), fruit and vegetables (€5.5m), citrus fruits (€4.3m), bentonite (€3.6m), pharmaceutical products (€2m) and aluminium (€1.7m). These comprise 9% of Cyprus’ international exports. But the relationship goes both ways. The UK’s exports to Cyprus include petroleum products (€138m), motor vehicles and spare parts (€127m), clothing (€38m), electrical machinery and appliances (€29m), alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (€21m), pharmaceutical products (€17m) and tobacco products (€12m).

BREXIT: Nine demands by the Brits, six by us

With everything indicating towards a no-deal Brexit, the Cypriot authorities and British High Commission are preparing for the extreme scenario. The Brits have tabled nine issues of concern, which have to do with the health, safety and wellness of British citizens living in Cyprus. The Cypriot authorities have expressed concern about the impact a no-deal Brexit will have on local tourism, Cypriots’ living conditions in the UK, trade as well as tuition fees. Also, among the Cypriot side’s issues is the importation of medicines from the UK. Cyprus’ health services import many types of pharmaceuticals from the UK; if the latter was to leave the EU without a deal, the prices of these medicines would rise. The Cypriot services are already making arrangements to ensure the importation of alternative options from other EU countries. The prices will still be higher, however, and this is something that cannot be avoided.

High vaccination rate in Cyprus

Cyprus has a high vaccination rate amongst children, according to a response by the Health Minister to a question by DISY MP Stella Kyriakides. The minister said that according to available data, the percentage of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is very low on the island at the present stage. This is also evident through a population survey that takes place every three years on a sample of around 420 children island-wide, on the instructions of WHO which wants to know the coverage of children when it comes to the main vaccines.

Stella Kyriakides’ role has been upgraded

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen was widely criticised, by media and MEPs alike, over her decision to name Margaritis Schinas the “vice president for protecting our European way of life”, with Politis newspaper referring to the incident as a communication blunder to say the least. The paper also refers to the appointment of Stella Kyriakides as the European Commissioner-designate for Health, saying that as to be expected, being a new face to Brussels, she has started low in the hierarchy with a portfolio of limited influence. However, her long experience in matters relating to health and patients’ rights have provided Leyen with the ability to boost Kyriakides’ portfolio to include matters relating to the free market and environment, on top of food safety issues. In a letter laying out Kyriakides’ priorities, Leyen lists the supply and pricing of medicines, the implementation of a regulatory framework for medical equipment, the utilisation of patient data through the new e-health sector and the promotion of sustainable production of foodstuff alongside a restriction on the use of dangerous pesticides.

 Nitrosamine under the EMA microscope

EMA’s Executive Director has asked the human medicines committee (CHMP) to provide guidance for avoiding the presence of nitrosamine impurities in human medicines containing chemically synthesised active substances. ‘We will continue to work with our partners to address the presence of nitrosamines and reassure patients about the quality of their medicines,’ says the Executive Director Professor Guido Rasi. ‘It is of paramount importance that we learn from our experience with sartans and take a proactive approach for other classes of medicines.’ Nitrosamines are classified as probable human carcinogens (substances that could cause cancer) on the basis of animal studies. In 2018, nitrosamines were found in a number of blood pressure medicines known as ‘sartans’, leading to a recall of several products and an EU review, which set strict new manufacturing requirements for these medicines.

New round of consultations at end-September between HIO and medical community

The past week was marked by back-to-back meetings regarding the GHS. President Nicos Anastasiades met with the Health Minister as well as representatives of the HIO and OKYPY at the Presidential Palace, and was then updated by representatives of the Cyprus Medical Association, the nurses’ association, ENIK and the private doctors’ platform, on their joint proposals. The outcome of these meetings was the arrangement of a new round of consultations among the stakeholders, the objective of which will be to outline the next steps ahead of implementing the second phase of the GHS on 1 June 2020, as well as to reach final decisions through convergences that may be achieved, on whether private hospitals and more private doctors will join the system.

Close to the insurance companies

The owners of private hospitals may have agreed to a new round of consultations with the HIO, however there is still a significant divide between the two sides, even when it comes to the main philosophy of the GHS. Either way, the HIO is confident that the financial proposal it will submit to the private hospitals’ association (PASIN) at the end of the month will tempt them, as the compensation sums will be very close to what the insurance companies currently pay. Meanwhile, PASIN made it clear through radio and TV interviews on Friday that the proposals that have been prepared jointly with the private doctors’ association (ENIK) and CMA are still on the table, while PASIN was to meet on Saturday to encode the proposals in order to send them to the HIO within the next few days to form the basis for the new negotiations that are expected to begin in October.

 DRGS: The next chapter in the GHS

The Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) system will be used under the GHS to compensate public and private hospitals for their services. DRG is a complex system of probable payments which is used in many countries, which classifies the admission to hospitals based on the diagnosis and cost. The system is very similar to the one used by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, which encodes diagnoses, symptoms and procedures.

Labour costs increased due to GHS contributions

Labour costs increased by 5.2% in the second quarter of this year compared with the same quarter of 2018, mainly due to the introduction of contributions to the GHS on 1 March, according to Eurostat. Labour costs except for salaries increased by 16.1%, while salaries increased by just 3.1%, which is just below the country’s economic growth rate (3.2%). It is noted that salaries increased at a much higher rate in the majority of other EU countries, with the EU’s GDP growing by 1.4% and salaries increasing by 3.1% and the Eurozone’s GDP rising by 1.2% and salaries by 2.7%.

Medica of Eurolife now offers alternative health insurance options adjusted to the client’s needs

Eurolife is enriching its health insurance policy Medica with new options, offering clients the ability to pick and choose the options that best suit their needs. So, it is now offering three alternative programmes with multiple options: the Medica Basic, Medica Comfort and Medica Plus.

Medical rooms at schools became storage spaces

The medical rooms at schools are housed in rooms with no specifications or unfitting spaces, even though there are building standards about the operation of the schools. Specifically, out of the 458 public schools in Primary and Secondary Education, 59 schools don’t have a medical room, 63 schools have an unfitting medical room, in 61 schools the medical rooms are occupied or shared with others, 132 schools do not meet the requirements and 143 schools don’t have a proper medical rooms. In the private sector, there are 32 schools in total, and 17 of them have a medical room, while 15 schools don’t have a medical room.

Making use of digital technologies for child cancer

A bill by Cypriot MEPs, Loucas Fourlas and Giorgos Georgiou, which aims to make use of digital technologies, in order to better diagnose and treat cancer in children, will go to the Plenary of the European Parliament for a vote on 23 October. The bill was recently adopted by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, which will finance the programme for 1 year, with €1m. The MEP Giorgos Georgiou, told CNA that child cancer is a rare condition, which requires cooperation and common effort so as to gather all the data from Europe and adopt best practices. He added that this is why they proposed the financing of a new pilot programme, in order to create a digital database, making use of new technologies and AI in order to improve the procedures of diagnosing child cancer and develop new effective treatments.

Little Antonis to travel to Boston for treatment

A hospital in Boston greenlit the transfer of little Antonis to Boston for treatment. The little fighter is going to Boston in the next few days, following arrangements by the Ministry of Health, as they couldn’t bring the medicine to Cyprus for him to be treated here. Speaking to OMEGA’s show, “Enimerosi Tora”, Antonis’ mother, Chara Thoma said that the procedures are moving fast and in the final stretch, with the Ministry’s services as well as the Director General standing closely by. According to Mrs Thoma, the procedures are being finalised, while it is likely that Antonis will travel next week.

They sent a message of hope for children with cancer

Extreme weather phenomena were not enough to prevent 112 marathon runners from reaching the finishing line in Limassol on Sunday. The “I run for a dream, make a wish come true” marathon was organised by the One Dream, One Wish foundation to raise funds to create an operating room at the child oncology unit at Makarios Hospital, for children suffering from cancer.