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Daily Press Review – 15/11/2019

Hellenic Bank’s new charges

According to the new charges by Hellenic Bank, customers will be charged €2 for cash withdrawals of up to €10,000 at the till, with the charge reduced to €1 for people aged over 65 years old. For amounts exceeding €10,000, the charge will be €5. They will be charged €2 to cash a cheque. Even though it is free to print out a statement online, customers will be charged €5 per issue cycle, including the running month, at the till. HB’s new charges will come into effect in January 2020. Inbusinessnews presents the new charges analytically, providing the relevant links for bank transactions, commercial transactions and trustee and custodian services.

 

Renowned speakers from the international arena at the “Limassol Star Speaker Show”

A unique event will take place on 12 December at Charoupomiloi Lanitis, Limassol. Hellas Direct presents “The Limassol Star Speaker Show” for the first time, welcoming renowned speakers from abroad, who will relay their experiences in the business and marketing sectors. The aim of this cross-industry conference is to help professionals improve their leadership skills and marketing strategies, with the ultimate goal of acquiring the necessary tools for a successful business. The speakers will include Alexis Pantazis, co-founder and Executive Director of Hellas Direct. The event is organised by IMH, the main sponsor is Hellas Direct and other sponsors so far include Hellenic Bank and Parimatch.

 

It will educate its customers

On the topic above, Politis reports that pressure from the parties, unions and public opinion prompted Bank of Cyprus to postpone (but not revoke) the implementation of its increased charges as of 13 January. The decision does not postpone the plans for digital transformation, however, and so in the immediate future emphasis will be given to educating its customers (and particularly the elderly) on how to use the banks’ digital channels to carry out their transactions and avoid being charged. According to the paper’s sources, BoC will start operating a new pilot type of branch in early 2020 in Nicosia and Limassol, which will be dominated by ATMs and the cash registers will be barely visible. The bank’s employees will be present to guide and assist customers to carry out their transactions.

 

Saint… Averof

Phileleftheros comments that main opposition AKEL may be criticising ruling DISY and particularly its leader Averof Neophytou for putting the banks in their current dominant position, only to blast them for increasing their charges, however, it was following a meeting with DISY and Averof that BoC announced that it would be postponing the new charges. Therefore, Neophytou achieved what we promised, which was to stop the charges from being increased. He may not be a saint, but he is a brilliant gameplayer, the paper comments.

 

Loans worth €5.4b at immediate risk of foreclosure

On the topic above, Haravgi reports that the CBC data showed that there are loans worth €5.4b that are at immediate risk of foreclosure as they are non-performing and not covered by any restructuring agreement. Specifically, at the end of the first half of the year, total loans connected to the banks’ local operations totalled €32.60b, of which €9.71b were non-performing (29.8%). Of those, €4.34b’s worth are under a restructuring agreement, while the remaining €5.37b are not covered by any agreement and are therefore at immediate risk of foreclosure.

 

EBRD – Supporting exports of Cypriot products to the US

The Fairway Market campaign, which was an initiative of Olive Roots Limited to promote Cypriot products to the popular Fairway Market food chain in New York, took place with the support of the EBRD. The campaign launched in late September and lasted three weeks, providing Cypriot companies the opportunity to promote their products through publicity, sample distribution and other relevant actions.

 

2.5 years jailtime for fraud at Limassol port

Yesterday, the Limassol District Court issued its ruling for a €360,000 fraud case after years of litigation. The fraud took place at the Limassol port against the Association of Authorised Port Workers and one of the defendants was working as a port worker while the other was a mechanic. The Court found them guilty and sentenced to 2.5 years in jail. In a previous hearing for the same case, two other defendants (an accountant and a cashier) were acquitted.

 

Traffic in West Limassol

The recently completed “vertical road”, which connects the new Limassol port with the Limassol – Paphos highway is crucial to solving the traffic issue in West Limassol. However, the completion of the project didn’t solve the problem of trailers crossing through Zakaki’s residential area, causing frustration among residents. The 7.2km “vertical road” has four lanes and it’s been built as an avenue of urban road standards, since in addition to connecting to and from the Limassol port, it generally serves travellers in the Western areas of the greater Limassol urban area, south of the Limassol – Paphos highway. On the other hand, the “parallel road” which stretches from the roundabout at the intersection with Omonia Avenue, to the new roundabout built at the eastern end of Limassol port has recently started operating, connecting the Limassol port to the Limassol – Paphos highway.

 

Ankara escalating the pressure up to the Berlin talks

Phileleftheros reports that Turkey is seeking to put pressure on the Greek Cypriot side ahead of the Berlin trilateral meeting with its various actions at sea and on land. The Turkish provocations in the Cyprus’ EEZ are being escalated, while at the same time the so-called ‘prime minister’ of the occupied areas is making provocative statements about the opening of the enclosed city of Famagusta by the end of 2020. Diplomatic circles in Nicosia are expecting that until November 25, Ankara will step up tensions in the Republic seeking the backlash of the Greek Cypriot side. The Turkish government’s goal is to sabotage the new effort on the Cyprus issue, and to transfer responsibility to the Greek Cypriot side. The escalation of the Turkish challenges began on Wednesday afternoon with the sending of the drill rig “Fatih” to the east of Cyprus, and yesterday by sending the seismic vessel “Orouc Reis” to the west. To the south remain both the Yavuz drill rig and the seismic ship “Barbaros”. Yesterday, with the issuance of a new illegal Navtex,  Ankara pledged for illegal seismic activity in an area covering the entire western part of the Cypriot EEZ and part of Greece’s EEZ. With the Navtex, Turkey is essentially announcing the descent of the second Turkish-flagged seismic vessel – the “Oruc Reis”, for seismographs on a seabed of about 26,000 square kilometers, starting north of the Turkish coast and reaching as far south as the border. To the east the area follows the boundaries of the territorial waters of Cyprus from Akamas to Paphos, while to the east it reaches up to 100 kilometers from Kastellorizo. This activity is obviously based on Erdogan’s political map and strategy of escalating challenges, despite the geological and geophysical map of the region, which are used by hydrocarbon tanks. This conclusion is easily reached, since within the area that Turkey has “seized” for illegal seismographs, it has already carried out three drilling with the use of ‘Fatih’. In international practice, seismographs are performed first and then drilling, while in the case of the Cyprus’ EEZ, Erdogan follows the opposite.

 

The companies that supported the charity Gala Dinner of OPAP Cyprus

OPAP Cyprus organised a charity dinner on Wednesday 13 November 2019 at 19:30, on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary of the company’s presence in Cyprus at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol. The donations by the companies that participated in the grandiose charity dinner amounted to €204,000. The proceeds of the event, were donated to the Cyprus Red Cross Children Therapy Centre Stella Soulioti. Some of the biggest companies of Cyprus took part and supported the event, including Melco.

 

Loan-shark accused of blackmail

A Syrian man has been accused of loan-sharking, blackmail and demand for property under threat. He was brought to the Nicosia District Court yesterday, where they issued a warrant for his detention. According to everything that CIF officer Sofocles Sofocleous told the Court, the crimes where carried out between 2015 and 22 October 2019 both in the occupied areas as well as the RoC-controlled areas. His victims were two Greek-Cypriots who were playing at the casinos of the occupied areas. This is where the victims met the suspect who was seemingly operating with another person. When the two defendants were losing their money at the casinos, they were borrowing from the suspect with 25% interest every month. The borrowers were issuing guaranteeing cheques to the suspect but they were not deposited, but after the loan was repaid, they were returned to the defendants. When the defendants could no longer pay back the loans, they reported the suspect to the Police.

 

OPAP celebrated 50-year anniversary

OPAP Cyprus collected €240K at the charity dinner celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the company’s presence in Cyprus at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol. The proceeds of the event, will be donated to the Cyprus Red Cross Children Therapy Centre Stella Soulioti. Some of the biggest companies of Cyprus took part and supported the event, including Melco. The event was held in the presence of the President of the Republic, the President of the House, ministers and other government and state officials, while at a brief welcome address, the President praised the multi-dimensional work of companies like OPAP Cyprus. He also underlined the significant contribution of the Red Cross and congratulated its Chairwoman Fotini Papadopoulou, who has succeeded Stella Soulioti. Touched by the big amount collected for the Therapy Centre, Fotini Papadopoulou thanked OPAP Cyprus, noting that their cooperation started four years ago, while in the past three years the company has been significantly supporting the annual fundraiser. “The decision to donate the proceeds of the event to the Children Therapy Centre marks a new page in the relationship of the Red Cross and OPAP, honoring the former Chairwoman in the best way and mainly providing an opportunity to upgrade the Therapy Centre”, she added.

 

The distribution of vaccines starts on Monday

The distribution of seasonal flu vaccines to GPs and paediatricians of the GHS, will begin on Monday and it’s expected to last for a few days. Citizens who belong to the population’s vulnerable groups and need to be vaccinated must contact their GP (or paediatrician in children’s cases) and schedule an appointment. A competent official of the HIO stated that “the first 18,000 vaccines have arrived in Cyprus and distribution will start on Monday. We expect another batch of 58,000 vaccines next week, while 10,000 more are expected by early December”. She also said that the 88,000 vaccines that we will receive is double the number of vaccines that has been sent to Cyprus in the past, and that flu vaccines only need to be administered to vulnerable groups of the population.

 

The first T/C doctor to join the GHS

Phileleftheros interviews pathologist Okan Dagli, and one of the 441 personal doctors in the GHS, who is the first Turkish-Cypriot to register in the system. He has been registered in the Cyprus Medical Association since 2013 and since then has been examining T/Cs who work in the RoC-controlled areas. Last August and following the GHS’ implementation, Okan Dagli turned to the HIO to register in the GHS. After he was told that he needed an address in the RoC-controlled areas, he set up an office in Pyla. A total 220 beneficiaries have registered with Dagli and this number is slowly increasing, as he said.

 

Working hours for blood tests extended

On Monday, the working hours of blood test services at OKYPY medical centres in Nicosia will be extended. The extension of the blood drawing (and analysis) department is included in the broader framework which aims to restructure and improve state services. Blood test services for GHS beneficiaries will need referrals for lab work by the GPs of the Centres as well as by GHS health professionals (GPs and specialised doctors). In November, the operating hours of the centres will expand to all districts.

 

OKYPY head resignation causes more problems

Alekos Stamatis’ resignation from the presidency of the state health services organisation (OKYPY), is causing a great upheaval in the organisation. The organised patients on the one hand are asking the Ministry of Health to intervene so that the organisation’s Board becomes more effective and exercise strict controls in state hospitals and on the other hand, state doctors are preparing to convene in order to decide how to react. At the same time, the Minister of Health, Constantinos Ioannou, seems to have decided on a specific person who he will propose to the Cabinet as the new OKYPY head. The situation, following Stamatis’ resignation yesterday was explosive. In statements, PASYKI president Sotiris Koumas said that “OKYPY has been left without a head at a time when unions are trying to negotiate the incentives of specialist doctors. This is a serious negotiation for a very serious issue, and its results will decide whether doctors will be prevented from leaving the public sector. If Stamatis’ resignation means that there will be a delay, then it should be taken for granted that more doctors will depart”. PASYKI’s Board, Koumas said, that the Board will have an extraordinary meeting in the next few days, in order to take decisions. “We cannot keep telling doctors to wait, and then after they have waited, take no further steps. We need to inform our colleagues; we will go there with specific suggestions to see how we will react. We see time being wasted away, and some are trying to put the blame on us, saying that it’s always PASYKI’s fault for being critical”.

 

Patients want OKYPY Board to have an active role

Politis reports that the Minister of Health will mostly likely name the person who will take up as head of OKYPY, before the Cabinet today. This is a person who is very well-educated on the reforms that are being promoted in the healthcare sector as well as about everything that goes on in the hospitals and OKYPY’s efforts for autonomisation. OKYPY’s spokesman Charalambos Charilaou reassured that Stamatis’ resignation does not mean that there will be a delay in the effort to solve problems or promote the regulation of the hospitals’ autonomisation. The organised patients are now openly doubting the composition and the role of OKYPY. The head of the organised patients association, Marios Kouloumas said that the Board must take a more active role now. As he said the management teams of the hospitals are not supervised, there is no coordination nor any specific objectives.

 

AKEL: government should respond to healthcare sector problems

AKEL calls the Minister of Health to immediately intervene to resolve the problem that trainee doctors have in getting a specialisation title in Greece. As long as the Ministry doesn’t resolve the problem, the party says in an announcement, the number of affected trainee doctors is increasing. At the same time, the likelihood that these trainees will go to other countries to get a specialisation is also increasing. In this case, there will be even less doctors in state hospitals and therefore, more problems in the operation of the hospitals. It should be noted that the Ministry has been rather inactive on the matter. AKEL called on the government to respond to all the problems facing the healthcare sector.