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Daily Press Review – 18/10/2019

Hellenic Bank’s “Jumpstart” initiative – Keen interest expressed

A keen interest has been expressed by students in the “Jumpstart” scholarships programme that was launched recently by Hellenic Bank. The programme is directed at 2019 graduates of private or public schools, technical schools as well as soldiers who have competed their military service and are about to begin their studies. The scheme will support 20 undergraduate students with an annual scholarship of €2,000 for up to four years, as long as the candidate can maintain good grades. The selection criteria include family income and educational attainment. According to philenews’ sources, a large number of students have expressed interest and applied. It is worth noting that applicants must have Cypriot citizenship or be legal residents of Cyprus, living in the government-controlled areas. HB will announce the selected students on its website. The students will receive their scholarship in two instalments.

 

Haris Kakoullis of KPMG Cyprus re-elected Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cyprus

The American Chamber of Commerce in Cyprus (AmCham Cyprus) has announced the composition of its new Board of Directors, which was elected on 10 October. KPMG Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer Haris Kakoullis has been re-elected as the new chairman. Georgios Georgiou of Logicom has been elected Vice Chairman and Savvas Kleitou of Baker Tilly has been elected Treasurer. Hellenic Bank’s Demetris Sparsis was elected a Board member.

 

USB Bank’s integration with Astrobank completed

The procedure to integrate USB Bank’s operations in AstroBank’s systems has been successfully completed. The procedure took place between 11 and 13 October, just seven months after the takeover took place. As of Monday, 14 October, all of the former USB Bank’s and AstroBank’s customers are being served by the same IT systems and with the same procedures, for all banking operations through the two banks’ unified network of 16 branches, 18 ATMs as well as the Euronet ATM network, which is the island’s biggest with 350 ATMs.

 

RCB Bank adds Mastercard to its Digital Wallet

RCB has added its flagship Mastercard multi-currency card products on its Digital Wallet, becoming the first bank in Cyprus to introduce Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES). MDES is a service that allows banks to manage tokenization and digitization, in order to ensure security for every transaction from a variety of connected devices through a tap, touch or click. The RCB Digital Wallet with Mastercard will be applicable also for RCB’s Luxemburg branch customers.

 

Two mansions sold at auction for €1.71m

Two primary homes worth a combined €1.71m were foreclosed in the second quarter of 2019.  The last time a primary home was foreclosed was in the first quarter of 2018. According to Central Bank data, in the second quarter of 2019, 53 properties were sold at auction with a total purchasing price of €9.41m, compared with 100 in the first quarter with a purchasing price of €24.42m.

 

Banks the biggest player in the real estate market

The banks are the biggest player in the local real estate market through auctions, according to confidential data submitted to the House by the Central Bank. Specifically, in the first half of 2019, a total of 555 properties changed hands through foreclosure, of which 390 were purchased by the banks (70.3%). There has also been a significant increase in the rate of foreclosures, as in the aforementioned time period, 1,453 properties went to auction, while 1,187 warning letters were sent. The banks are also purchasing properties that meet the criteria of the Estia scheme.

 

Limassol and Larnaca 24-hour strike was cancelled at the last minute

Chaos at Limassol and Larnaca ports as a result of the scheduled port workers’ 24-hour strike relating to the non-renewal of the collective agreement that expired December 31 2017, was averted at the last minute with the intervention of the Minister of Labour. This positive development was the result of an extraordinary meeting which was convened at the Ministry of Labour with the participation of relevant workers’ unions representatives, and the employers’ side Associating of Shipping Agents, and management representatives of Eurogate Container Terminal Limassol and DP World Limassol and other government officials. Given the significant adverse effects which were expected from the two ports’ 24-hour strike, and especially the problems for the ships’ customer service, a meeting of all parties involved under the Minister of Labour, was convened to halt the strikes.  Eventually, the problem was resolved between the two sides unions and employers, and a new collective agreement was signed for the port workers for the period of 01/01/ 2018-31/12/2020.

 

7th Cyprus Energy Symposium: Cyprus next steps in energy

The 7th Cyprus energy Symposium will be held on December 5, 2019 at the Landmark Hotel in Nicosia. President Nicos Anastasiades will be the keynote speaker.

 

Melco supports responsible gaming

Press release: Melco, the operator of the Cyprus Casinos (C2) and the upcoming Integrated Casino Resort, City of Dreams Mediterranean, the only licensed casinos in Cyprus, has been actively demonstrating its commitment to responsible gaming while continuing to offer the highest standards of service and ensuring a fair and safe gaming experience for its guests, which is a Melco global hallmark. Aiming to inform the public about responsible gaming and their support programs, Melco and C2 participated in the second Responsible Gaming Awareness Week (RGAW), organised by the National Betting Authority and the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission from October 7 to 13. As part of RGAW, the Head of Regulatory Compliance of Melco Cyprus, Isobel John, participated in the Responsible Gaming Conference 2019 and presented C2’s Responsible Gaming Policy.  C2 organised a promotional outdoor event at the La Boca restaurant at Columbia Plaza in Limassol, raising public awareness about responsible gaming and sharing leaflets on C2’s Responsible Gaming Policy. Another workshop was subsequently organised by C2, with the company’s executives delivering a presentation on responsible gaming at Crowne Plaza Hotel. Furthermore, at the end of the week, C2 organised a bigger event at Molos in Limassol, informing the public on responsible gaming. The deputy Mayor of Limassol Nikos Sykas and the CEO of the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission Nick Tofiluk attended the event and gave a short speech.

 

Works at casino-resort going at a feverish pace (Photos)

The City of Dreams Mediterranean casino-resort in Zakaki has entered its construction phase, according to a report in “Business Limassol” of the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The foundation stone was laid by the President of the Republic, Melco’s CEO and Chairman, and the CNS Group Director in June 2018. Since then, a lot has taken place and it took a year to prepare the ground for the foundation of the building complex. Due to the high aquifer of the area, drainage during excavations has been uninterrupted and is still ongoing, while the construction piling was just recently completed. The project’s construction, which has been assigned to Avax-Terna J.V., has now entered the next phase, which is the laying of the foundations for the hotel and the casino. The foundations for the conference and exhibition centre are also expected to be laid by the end of October, while construction work will require thousands of cubic meters of concrete and tons of iron. The project is being constructed on two plots of a total area of 545,000m2. The luxury, 16-storey hotel will be built above the casino, will have 473 rooms, 23 suites, one presidential suite and six elevators. The ground floor of the complex will include five world-class restaurants and bars, with international, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, a commercial centre spanning 1,700m2, inspired by old Nicosia, with well-known brands, a large dance hall, a wellness centre and a gym. The spacious casino will include a 7,500m2 gaming area with 136 tables and 1,000 machines. The conference and exhibition centre, spanning 9,600m2, will be in a separate building, with the capacity to host international conferences and exhibitions. The exterior design will have a strong Mediterranean character and will include three pools, entertainment areas, children’s areas, sporting facilities, an amphitheatre etc. The resort will be accessed by the road adjacent to MyMall. There will be hundreds of parking spaces, ensuring that visitors have easy access, while there will be two large green areas north-east of the development. The development will also have its own sewage recycling plant. City of Dreams Mediterranean will be Europe’s largest integrated casino-resort and is the biggest investment ever to be implemented in Cyprus. It will cost €550m and is expected to be completed at end-2021.

 

Construction of Paralimni Marina to begin in November

Construction works for the Paralimni marina are expected to begin in November. Along with the Ayia Napa marina and other major projects in the area, the project is expected to give the free Famagusta area fresh impetus. According to the site’s sources, all the necessary preparatory work has been completed for construction to begin. A representative of the Famagusta branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association (PASYXE) told the site: “The Marina is expected to actively contribute to the growth of nautical tourism and generally enrich the free Famagusta area’s tourism product as well as attract investors”. The project is one of a number of important developments that have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented over the past few years, such as the casino-resort, the Ayia Napa, Limassol and Larnaca marinas, new hotels, mixed tourism developments and golf courses.

 

New tender for on-call doctors in the GHS

The HIO has failed to establish an on-call doctor schedule for the GHS. The rewards that the HIO had suggested for GPs for adults and paediatricians, appear not to have been unsatisfactory for doctors, as they failed to attract any interest. On 5 September, the HIO’s tender expired having received only 5 applications, of which only 1 met the necessary criteria. All of the applications concerned paediatricians, and no interest was expressed by GPs for adults at all. It’s worth to note that OKYPY was also absent, even though it has the appropriate infrastructure through its health centres as well as the doctors to participate without any major changes in the on-call schedule of GHS. Reportedly, the HIO, following this failed attempt, investigated the reasons why it failed to attract doctors, and found that the rewards it had suggested were considered too low. The HIO also found that there are differences in the operational costs between health centres of different districts, so following informal negotiations with GPs and paediatricians in the GHS, the HIO has already cancelled the previous tender and announced a new procedure, with a separate tender in each district and for each doctor-category. During the informal negotiations, GHS doctors suggested some specific reforms to the services offered by these on-call centres. To meet the population’s needs there must be 3 GPs on-call in Nicosia, 2 in Limassol, and 1 in Larnaca, Paphos, Famagusta, Troodos and Polis Chrysochous. For paediatricians, there must be 2 in Nicosia and Limassol, 1 for the remaining cities.