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Daily Press Review – 22/11/2019

Cyprus transforming into competitive investment fund centre

Cyprus is slowly becoming a competitive centre for investment funds, mainly due to its regulatory framework, the flexibility it provides and its continuously improving professional services, said the head of the Department of Collective Investment Firms of Global Capital Securities and Financial Services, subsidiary of cdb bank, Giorgos Georgiou speaking at the International Funds Summit. According to an announcement of the Cyprus Development Bank, cbd bank once again reconfirmed the active role it plays in supporting and developing the investment fund sector in Cyprus. Participating in the International Funds Summit for the third year in a row as a gold sponsor, the Bank highlighted the prospects opening up in the fund management services sector.

 

Central Bank head calls bankers to become friendlier

The head of the Central Bank made severe recommendations to the banks, calling on their leaderships to urge their employees to be friendly and polite with the clients. With a recent circular to the Senior Management teams of the Banks, the head of the Central Bank, Constantinos Herodotou determines the way that bank employees should treat the clients. This matter arose because of the letters that the banks are sending to their clients, asking them to update their personal information, without personalising the letter. Instructions are clear and simple. They should explain with detail, patience and politeness. As a general rule, what the head of the Central Bank notes is that the heads of banks must be certain that their personnel has been properly trained to handle clients, effectively implementing this policy and the procedures of the bank. As it comes to updating the client’s information, the Central Bank calls on bank employees to re-examine the procedures they are implementing, so that they are friendly to the clients. He reminds the banks that information updates must take place separately for each client and not en masse and they should only collect the necessary information depending on the profile and the risk level of each client. Recently, there were cases where even minors were asked to update their information.

 

MoF signs agreement with EIB for €40m loan

The Minister of Finance, Harris Georgiades agreed to a €40m loan with the European Investment Bank, for the establishment of a fund that will finance businesses on behalf of households, SMEs and Local Authorities in the sectors of Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency. According to an announcement of the Ministry of Finance, funding will be offered with beneficial terms through intermediary banking organisations and is expected to enhance the competitiveness of the economy and contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission, through energy saving interventions and improving energy efficiency. Moreover, the contribution of €40m to the Fund, will be submitted by the State through the Business Programme Competitiveness and Sustainable Development, while intermediary banking institutions will also contribute €40m o the Fund.

 

Audit Office investigates fraud with European funds

The Audit Office of the Republic is currently looking into four projects for the promotion of agricultural products that received a total €14m funding from the EU, which at first sight suggest fraud.

 

Auditor-General proposes new taxation for officials

The Audit Office of the Republic expressed its disagreement to give the right to a large number of officials and directors-general to use state limousines for their transfers from and to home. It argues that this will be too costly for the state and sounds the alarm for the likelihood of new abuses, since the Audit Office will not be able to control whether these officials are using the limousines for personal purposes. However, if the House insists on satisfying this demand for a large number of officials and directors, then specific conditions must be met, the Auditor-General told the House Finance Committee: installing a GPS system in the limousines, tracking the vehicles in real time; secondly, the officials that will be using the limousines to and from their homes, must be taxed as they are enjoying an additional benefit in kind, which will mean that the state will have to pay extra on gas and maintenance.

 

Numerous works for the new year

During the presentation of the Ministry of Transport’s budget for 2020, Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Vassiliki Anastasiadou referring to the ports industry, said that the effective operation of the Limassol Port is generating the expected revenue. In relation to the development of the Larnaca port and Larnaca marina she said that the process of the agreement negotiation is well underway and cannot be discussed, adding that the goal is to secure the economic and legal interests of the state.

 

Ministry of Transport development spending at 75%

Development spending is expected to reach 75% by the end of the year, said Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Vassiliki Anastasiadou, adding that projects worth € 142m are under way, projects worth € 226m are under tender, while from 2015 until today, projects worth 186 million have been implemented. Upon presentation of the Ministry of Transport’s budget for 2020 before the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, amounting to € 304 million, against € 283.5 million in 2019, showing an increase of € 20.5 million or 7.26%, with development spending amounting to € 58m, Ms Anastasiadou stressed that the Ministry’s vision is for Cyprus to become a regional hub of modern and efficient infrastructure and services.

 

Next week the answers from Commission

Deputy Shipping Minister Natasa Pilides said yesterday that ‘we have developed quite a strong argument about the need for a ferry connection with Greece and we are almost ready to submit the questionnaire to the European Commission’. Pilides explained that developments from Commission on the Cyprus-Greece ferry are expected next week since we are ready to submit the answers to the questions raised. Specifically speaking yesterday before the House Finance Committee, where she presented the budget for the Deputy Ministry, answering a question on the status of the ferry connection, Pilides said that after the study that was conducted last year and responding to a very specific and extensive questionnaire by the European Commission, we have proceeded with a very detailed plan on how this connection will work.

 

Critical decisions today on LNG

President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, Minister of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and the DEFA Board are meeting today at the presidential palace in order to take crucial decisions on the future of LNG in Cyprus.  The decisions they are called to make today are crucial in determining the question of ‘now or never’. Today’s decision will determine whether Cyprus will in the future have an LNG storage and liquefication terminal for electricity production. It will be decided whether DEFA can and how it will proceed signaling with the consortium already chosen in the latest competition for construction of port facilities in Vasilikos and the conversion of the ship to a floating storage unit for natural gas storage and liquification.

 

ETAP Paphos visits Athens to promote the city

Paphos’ Tourism board is in Athens to promote the city as a year-round tourist destination. The event is organised by Cypriot airlines in Athens, and is included in the series of actions agreed between ETAP and Cypriot airlines. The event aims to inform more than 100 travel agents, travel stakeholders and journalists.

 

German Oncology Centre is suing the Ministry of Health

The head and director of the German Oncology Centre launched an attack against the leadership of the Ministry of Health, revealing that the they had already filed an appeal, in order to claim everything that the Ministry owes them for the services that they have offered until today as well as additional compensations for the inconvenience they suffered in the past year. The problem, as the head of the Centre, Kikis Kazamias has said was identified three months after they signed a contract with the Ministry of Health. “We identified three different points in which there was a different interpretation in the provisions of the contract”. Simply put, the Centre interpreted the state’s compensation to the State for the services they provided to cancer patients, in a different way than the Ministry. “Following the intervention of third parties, the Ministry of Health was convinced that two of the three points were problematic but for the third point, they have been incredibly stubborn and after a year of being inconvenienced we decided as a Centre that we should proceed legally in order to claim our accruals”, Kazamias said. In fact, as Kazamias said, “even if we until recently were only claiming our accruals, now we will also claim compensations and it would be very interesting if the State wasn’t called to pay these compensations, but the government officers responsible for this situations.” The Centre is suing the State for about €1m and as the Centre’s head said, the Ministry very arrogantly doesn’t want to pay this difference; if our services weren’t directed at patients and we were instead selling commodities to the State, we would have terminated this agreement. As you understand however, because the other side doesn’t care but we do care about our patients, we will not terminate the agreement.”

 

HIO responds to PAP test debate

The HIO referred to the directives of the European Union and the United States Preventive Services Task Force, in response to the intense debate about the frequency of PAP tests for women. The HIO gave an official opinion yesterday, publishing the relevant scientific reports. Specifically, as the HIO’s press release reports, the HIO’s decision for the GHS to cover the cost of PAP tests for women every two years until a national policy and population control programme has been carried out by the Ministry of Health, was based on the directives of the Council of the European Union and the United States Preventive Services Task Force. These two bodies as the HIO reports, recommend that this test is carried out frequently, every 3-5 years. The HIO stresses that in cases where pathological findings justify repeating the test in a period of less than two years, the test will be covered by the GHS. It should be noted that despite the disagreements that were recorded in the past few days among Cypriot doctors, the recommendations of these international bodies, were not questioned by any Cypriot scientist.

 

OSAK calls for upgrade of state hospitals

The National coalition of patient organisations (OSAK) said that the upgrade of state hospitals is the most important reform, along with the GHS, in the healthcare sector. Moreover, as OSAK reports in a relevant press release, the delays and continuous changes in the leadership of OKYPY are anything other than positive, as they have created a climate of distrust among citizens, who justifiably now doubt whether the autonomisation and the modernisation of state hospitals will succeed. At the same time, OSAK expresses its satisfaction for the immediate appointment of new OKYPY president, Marios Panagides by the Cabinet last week.

 

New clash over health funds

The issue with the health funds of employees in the wider public sector has turned into a major issue, in view of the implementation of the second phase of the GHS. The cause of the recent clash was the recent decision of the Cabinet to transform the Health Funds of SGOs and Municipalities into funds that complement the services of the GHS. This decision has caused a reaction by OEB, which called on the government to re-examine its decision and give directions for the full cancellation of the funds from 1 June 2020. PEO responded by reminding OEB that it also signed this agreement for the evolution of the funds. At the same time, DIKO complaints that with this decision, the system will have two speeds.

 

Smoking leads to premature aging  

Research has shown that smoking increases the contraction of blood vessels resulting in an insufficient blood supply to the skin. This process deprives the skin of nutrients which eventually becomes malnourished and loses its radiance. As if that weren’t enough, the long-term lack of oxygen from the smoker’s skin increases the creation of free radicals, which are toxic and damage the skin’s DNA repair mechanisms. Research has also shown that the muscles’ continuous activity during smoking lead to the premature development of wrinkles, especially around the mouth. These wrinkles are known as “smoker’s wrinkles”. In fact, it’s commonly known that smokers often develop wrinkles faster when compared to non-smokers of the same age. In addition, smoking deprives the skin of collagen while leading to a thinner skin due bad blood circulation as well as signs of premature aging, such as intense wrinkles and skin marks. Lastly, smoking affects the endocrinology system damaging the body’s image, especially in women. Research has shown that the proportion of the female body changes in terms of waist and hips.

 

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