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Daily Press Review – 21/8/2019

Kyriacou Matsi is changing

The regeneration of Kyriacou Matsi Avenue, described as one of the most dangerous roads in the capital’s central road network, begins in the next few weeks. Politis learns that Nicosia Municipality will sign the relevant contracts with the construction company next week, and works are expected to begin in the second week of September. The project will be carried out in four stages: the first will start from Junior School up until Kratinou street (the vertical road leading up to the Wargaming building).

 

Hellenic: Youssef A. Nasr has departed, Christos Themistocleous on the Board

Hellenic Bank’s Board of Directors chairman Youssef A. Nasr has withdrawn his candidacy for re-election to the bank’s board during its EGM on 28 August, citing personal reasons. According to an announcement, Christos Themistocleous has been nominated to stand for election to the Board (as an independent, non-executive member).

 

HB in talks with Pimco to sell NPLs

It appears Hellenic Bank is confirming information that was leaked over its intentions to sell an NPL portfolio to Pimco. However, based on the leaked information, the Bank is also in consultation with other investment funds and no final decisions have been made yet. HB’s management was asked by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission to provide an update on media reports that it intended to sell a loan package to Pimco. In its response, the bank appeared to more or less confirm that the American investment fund had shown an interest, but stressed that no final decisions had been made. CySEC intervened because HB’s share was being negotiated on the stock exchange, without the Bank officially responding to the reports; something it has still not done so far. StockWatch notes that one of HB’s major shareholders is Poppy Sarl, which is affiliated with Pimco. It also notes that Pimco was assigned to prepare a report on the local banking system’s capital requirements for the period 2012-2015.

 

Information on “political” loans worth €200m with the Auditor General

Attorney General Costas Clerides’ supplementary opinion on the red loans to politically exposed persons (PEPs) at the former Co-op, which were transferred to Hellenic Bank, will be handed to the Auditor General today. According to leaked information, the substance of the supplementary opinion does not appear to differ much from the initial opinion, which was that any information involving loans to PEPs should be handed over to the Auditor General; including the red loans that have been transferred to HB as performing. Based on the report by the committee of inquiry into the Co-op’s collapse, the 2,124 loans of PEPs that were moved to HB totalled €191m at the end of 2017. Of these loans, there were delays worth €127m on 984 loans. These include NPLs of ministers, MPs, senior officials of the state and political parties. Following the advice of its legal advisors, state asset management company KEDIPES had refused to hand over all the data concerning the PEPs’ NPLs, with the excuse that they are now being managed by Hellenic and that in his initial opinion, the Attorney General did no comment on specific articles of the relevant law regarding the transfer of assets to Hellenic. “We examined KEDIPES’ reservations and the specific articles that it invokes, and we have prepared a supplementary opinion that we expect to present to the auditor general today,” Clerides told StockWatch.

 

Data by KEDIPES to the police regarding loans

The police have asked KEDIPES to provide specific data and information, as part of their investigation into the collapse of the Co-op. According to Phileleftheros’ sources, KEDIPES sent some data to the investigating team a few days ago, which is being assessed alongside the findings of the committee of enquiry into the former Cyprus Cooperative Bank’s demise. The police had asked for information on loans that had been granted by the Co-op to members of its secretariat, officials and executives. They are now waiting for the rest of the information, while they also anticipate the outcome of the saga that is going on between the Auditor General and KEDIPES, regarding the loans of PEPs.

 

Test for e-foreclosures and they launch in early 2020

The first online auctions in Cyprus are expected to start taking place in the first months of 2020. The delay in implementing e-foreclosures is due to the lack of a decree by the Finance Ministry defining all the procedures that need to be followed for e-auctions. The decree was handed to the Law Office for legal vetting months ago; a government source tells Phileleftheros that the decree is expected to be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic in September. It will lay out who will participate in e-auctions and the minimum bidding amounts. It will also define the launch dates of e-auctions, their duration and the timeframe for submitting bids.

 

Central Banker had scores of meetings

Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou has had a series of contacts in Cyprus as well as abroad, since he was appointed. The first calendar to be published listing Herodotou’s meetings with institutional bodies, speeches, presentations and conferences in April, show that he has not wasted any time since being officially appointed on 9 April, holding meetings almost on a daily basis in Cyprus and abroad. In Cyprus he has met, among other, with the banks’ managements.

 

There is no common language between the banks and SMEs

There is still a long way to go for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the banks to start talking a common language, according to a study by KPMG entitled “Bringing the Corporate and the Financial Communities together”. The report was prepared in view of the over-lending that has been observed in SMEs, as well as the fact that one in two loans by SMEs is non-performing. It offers guidelines to the banks and businesses on how to find common ground and communicate better.

 

US warns not to harbor Iranian tanker

An Iranian-flagged oil tanker recently released by Gibraltar is once again causing diplomatic tensions. The US has warned that any assistance given to the vessel would be considered as support for terrorism. An Iranian oil tanker that was held for six weeks in Gibraltar is thought to be heading for Greece, but has not yet officially requested permission to dock, Greek Maritime Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis said on Tuesday. “We are following its progress and are working with the Greek foreign minister,” Plakiotakis told Greek media. The Adrian Darya 1, formerly named Grace 1, was seized by British Royal Marines on July 4 in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the British territory of Gibraltar over suspicions that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. On Tuesday, the US warned Greece and other nations that it would view any assistance offered to the tanker as support for terrorism. “We have conveyed our strong position to the Greek government on the matter, as well as all ports in the Mediterranean that should be forewarned about facilitating this vessel,” a US State Department official said.

 

Offers sought for plots next to the casino

The process has begun of receiving sealed offers for plots of land for sale, neighbouring the City of Dreams Mediterranean casino-resort that is under construction, MyMall Limassol and a proposed housing development with a golf course. Administrator Evangelos D. Pafitis Estates Ltd announced that it is accepting bids for two plots of land in Limassol, in the Tzerkezi Toumba area, which are adjoined and can be used for a joint development as well. The building co-efficient for the plots is 40%, with the potential to increase it to 60%. The deadline for submission of bids is Monday, 20 September, at 12.30pm. The procedure to open the sealed bids will take place on Wednesday, 4 September at 12.30pm, and it will be open to all the bidders. The bids must include a guarantee letter for 10% of the price of the offer, and proof of the bidder’s ability to pay off the rest of the sum (proof of funds).

 

“Yes” to development of high-rise buildings, under conditions

The development of high-rise buildings continues to monopolise interest in the large-scale developments sector and has become a strong point of dispute in recent years. Kathimerini reports that high-rise buildings may boost the economy in the broader sense; however, there are still doubts regarding their long-term sustainability. The paper interviews the director of the Town-planning Department, Kyriacos Koundouros, who admits that there are certain matters that could have been handled better. He said there was a reduction in the number of applications for permission to build high-rise buildings this year, and that the majority of interest has been expressed in the Limassol and Larnaca regions. Besides high-rise buildings, the issuing of town-planning licences for large-scale developments is still a labyrinth of procedures, said Koundouros, who added that the proposals to be submitted by the Interior Ministry in the next six months to simplify licensing procedures are expected to resolve these issues. Koundouros is asked, among other, how the ministry’s effort to implement the “One stop shop” procedure for large developments is coming along. He responds that this is currently being processed by the ministry. “Already, the licensing of the casino has operated on this basis; a licensing system that accelerated all the procedures so we could keep to the timeframes. The Interior Ministry is processing the issue at the moment and it may be enacted, either through legislation, or through regulations that will be introduced by the Ministry for the licensing of specific developments that are considered strategically important,” said Kountouros.

 

70% of tourist flow to Paphos was from Britain and Russia

Around 70% of tourist flow to Paphos this year came from Britain and Russia, the president of the region’s Tourism Development and Promotion Board, George Mais, told Phileleftheros. Mais said that Paphos has attracted tourists from new markets this year, and this is due to the inclusion of flights from new destinations at Paphos airport, from countries such as Israel, the Balkans, Poland and Hungary. As regards the Board’s strategy to develop Paphos’ tourism product, Mais stressed the need to implement hugely important projects, such as the marina, the Kato Paphos-Airport avenue, the new Paphos-Polis road, but also other tourism-enriching projects, such as sporting infrastructure, the satellite casino and the upgrade of hotels in Polis Chrysochous.

Promising drug for Pancreatic cancer

Researchers at the University of Michigan have focused their latest clinical trials on a new drug that targets Pancreatic cancer, and thus far the results are promising. Pancreatic cancer has one of the highest mortality rates, with an average 9% of survival on a 5-year basis. It’s widely known that it spreads in various organs of the body, and it’s usually resilient to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Clinical trials of this new drug showed that the average survival span without this drug was approximately 12-14 months but adding the drug into the patients’ lives extended their survival to 22 months on average. While it requires further research, this study provides hope for the future.

 

New incentives for A&E doctors

The President of PASYKI (Cyprus Association of State doctors) Soteris Koumas, expressed ‘ignorance’ about today’s meeting with the Council of Ministers, where they’re supposed to discuss additional incentives to attract A&E doctors. Mr. Koumas mentioned in his statement that doctors were not informed about the state’s intention to discuss this issue, and he shared his regret about the management of such serious issues.

 

Food containers, straws, q-tips, cigarette butts

Given the extensive use of single-use-plastics in everyday life, with obvious catastrophic consequences on the environment as well as the population’s health on a global level, it is high-time for coordinated action and raising awareness. Mrs. Panagiotou highlights that we are continuously trying to reduce our plastic use. Also, Mrs. Christodoulidou stated that in the future they will implement additional measures in the framework of the Republic of Cyprus complying to the new 2019/901/EU directive, which was approved on a European basis. In fact, the EU directive foresees the ban of certain single-use-plastics including plastic straws, dishes, cutlery, cigarette butts etc. Actions for the transfer of the implementation of the Directive in Cyprus are under way with the new timetable set for July 2021 when restrictions on the disposal of plastics on the market will come to effect.

 

Paros: wants to be the first Mediterranean island to ditch plastic

Paros aims to be the first Mediterranean island to ditch plastic, through an initiative called “Clean Blue Alliance”, introduced by Common Seas, an organisation which aims to reduce the production of plastic waste and in turn stop marine plastic pollution. The mentioned project was also published by BBC, to further promote this initiative. Common Seas, Paros Municipality and WATT have agreed to collaborate towards this initiative “Clean Blue Paros”, which is also supported by Cyclades Preservation Fund and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hellas. “Clean Blue Paros” will guide and educate both Paros residents and visitors. Meanwhile, they will identify and invest in solutions that will effectively reduce and ultimately wipe-out plastic waste from Paros’ seas. The first step is to ditch plastic straws entirely by the next summer period, which is also before their EU ban in 2022, while there are more to come that are supported by businesses who also aim to reduce their own public waste.