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Daily Press Review – 24/02/2020

In the press over the weekend and today:

KEDIPES €4.5m share in Altamira consortium

The Cyprus Asset Management Company’s (KEDIPES) share in the Altamira Cyprus consortium is valued at €4.5m, with Altamira Spain being the buyer. According to a presentation by the Ministry of Finance, KEDIPES’ share (initially of the former Co-op bank) is valued at €4.5m. The former Co-op had a 49% in the Altamira Asset Management Cyprus consortium, with that share being transferred to KEDIPES following the agreement to sell part of the former Co-op’s operations to Hellenic Bank. Reportedly, the evaluation of the 49% was by Deloitte Cyprus, with the €4.5m sum deemed fair value by both sides, while this amount was also assessed by monitoring agent BakerTilly. According to the presentation, they are expecting the final approval of the transaction by the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission, which had drawn up a list of commitments in the context of the approval of the state support of the former Co-op sale agreement to Hellenic Bank. Upon the completion of the transaction, the next step is the renegotiation of the terms of the agreement between KEDIPES and Altamira, concerning the management of the portfolio of non-performing loans (NPLs) and non-performing exposures (NPEs) of the former. If the two sides don’t agree, they will launch a new tender to find an manager platform for KEDIPES’ assets.

Government €20.74b debt

The state debt totalled at €20,739m at the end of 2019, marking a €330m reduction compared to the end of 2018, according to new data released by the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO). According to the PDMO, short-term debt maturities for the fourth quarter of 2019, amounted to €206m while in December 20191 the domestic bond of €750m matured. This is one of the bonds granted to Hellenic Bank under the agreement to transfer part of the operations of the former Co-op to Hellenic Bank. According to the PDMO, bond repayments for individuals amounted to €22m, while loan repayments totalling €45m were also made.

Lower cost of the government guarantee to Hellenic Bank

The total cost of the Asset Protection Scheme, granted by the Republic of Cyprus to Hellenic Bank to facilitate the acquisition of assets and deposits of the former Co-op, proves to be lower than estimated. The government guarantee covers loans of €2.6b (€2.1b serviced and €500m NPLs at the time of conclusion of the sale agreement) for a period of 12 years and is activated when unexpected losses occur. An independent organisation had estimated the potential losses at €155m. Hellenic Bank is paying a maintenance fee (already paid €15m) and is able to terminate the plan earlier. Hellenic Bank CEO Ioannis Matsis announced that the bank has revised downwards to €110m, the maximum amount of the contingent claim. The downward revision of the maximum amount of the claim is based on the good performance of the economy and the assumption that the foreclosure law will not change. Hellenic bank has already submitted two claims to KEDIPES for the compensation of €72m (the first claim was €65m and the second €7m), which are pending. KEDIPES has referred the verification of the amount to an independent organisation. The Audit Committee discussed the matter at the initiative of Citizens’ Alliance President George Lillikas, on the basis of Hellenic Bank’s first year guarantee requirements, which are higher than the original estimate €31m.

Significant development for BoC

HSBC’s move to take over as a correspondent bank for dollar clearing transaction acts as a vote of confidence in the BoC and in the Cypriot banking system in general. BoC, beyond HSBC as a correspondent bank for dollar transactions, has bank of New York Mellon and Citibank NA, New York. The fact that the list was strengthened by another correspondent bank comes in part as a reward, that Cyprus’ name is being restored in the international banking environment in terms of money laundering and that the tightened rules and measures implemented in recent years are beginning to convince.

MOKAS confiscated €221.5m cash

MOKAS, the unit for combating money laundering, has confiscated cash totalled to €221.5m as well as assets of high value. These are cash (freezing and confiscation), bitcoin, real estate, vehicles, stocks and securities and investment funds that are the product of fraudulent transactions or belong to persons involved in criminal cases. Specifically, there were a total of 373 cases of freezing and confiscation. 257 freezing decrees were issued with which they froze €144.7m, 49 bitcoin, 215 real estate properties, 38 vehicles, 4,358,242 shares/securities and 2 investment funds.

The digital reform

Hellenic Bank continues to focus on its digital reform, upgrading its technological infrastructure and enhancing the customers’ experience through digital channels and ATMs. The goal is for customers to control their finances during their daily routines, carrying out their transactions online, security and speed. Hellenic Bank promotes its digital reform by utilising emerging technologies at all points of contact with the customer. Following the integration of the former Co-op, Hellenic Bank now possesses the largest ATM network in Cyprus. Since early 2019, Hellenic Bank has invested in new technologies and all of its ATMs are state of the art. With 182 ATMs, Hellenic Bank is re-defining the meaning of Self-Service, combining technological developments with a people-centric experience. Additionally, the bank is in the process of modernising the efficiency of its branches as well as enhancing its customer service. In the context of its strategic plan, Hellenic Bank is evolving and adjusting to the growing needs of its customers, adopting technological developments across all of its operations.

 The “bad part” of the former Co-op is also valuable

Phileleftheros Insider reports an interview with KEDIPES president Lampros Papadopoulos. He refers to KEDIPES’ operations following the collapse of the former Co-op, as it absorbed the “bad part” of the collapsed bank, while the “good part” was acquired by Hellenic Bank. Later in the article he refers to the “thorn” with Hellenic Bank; one fact that may not be developing as originally estimated related to the Asset Protection Scheme (APS) signed with Hellenic Bank. The known APS, does not appear to be developing based on the initial calculations. Following the first request submitted by Hellenic Bank, which demanded €65.8m, a second request as filed in which the total claim increase. According to Papadopoulos two issues arise. The first concerns the disagreement on the interpretation of the agreement. “The difference arises from the interpretation and calculation of the claims an that is what we are trying to see with Hellenic Bank at this stage, in order to reach an agreement and pay the claims”. The second issue that emerges is of a more economic nature and relates to the amount Hellenic is seeking through the second claim to KEDIPES. The amount appears to have been increased and this is due to the fact that part of the €140m serviced loans transferred to Hellenic Bank ahs been converted into non-performing loans (NPLs). “This is quite worrying in itself, that while the economy is developing, serviced loans have now become problematic”.

Government debt at €20.74b

The central government’s state debt totalled at €20,739m at the end of 2019, marking a €330m reduction compared to the end of 2018, according to new data released by the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO). According to the PDMO, short-term debt maturities for the fourth quarter of 2019, amounted to €206m, while in December 2019 the domestic bond of €750m matured. This is one of the bonds granted to Hellenic Bank under the agreement to transfer part of the operations of the former Co-op to Hellenic Bank. According to the PDMO, bond repayments for individuals amounted to €22m, while loan repayments totalling €45m were also made.

BoC training the public at the digital reform rates

The Bank of Cyprus (BoC), steadily striving towards the new era of digital reform and true to its commitments is implementing the first public seminars. The goal is to enable existing customers to easily carry out their transactions online and through the bank’s digital channels, saving both money and time while doing so. The training seminars is one of the main pillars of the bank’s actions.

BoC is winning the real estate “race”

In 2019, property sales from the BoC Real Estate Management Unit (REMU) exceeded €500m. That goal is maintained for 2020, according to the head of the Unit, Anna Sofroniou, who thinks the mechanisms is performing very well, so she is not worried about competition created by other banks and real estate companies. Having already markets 60% of the real estate acquired in 2016, the unit is now turning to alternative investment options and is also diversifying its golf course ownership strategy.

Incentives for early retirement

The House of Representatives announced on Friday, that 4,088 public servants will be able to retire early from the public sector. Out of the 4,088 who fit the criteria, 1,175 are teachers and 2,913 are public servants or of the wider public sector. Therefore, they are given incentive to submit an application for early retirement within 45 days after the law is enforced, without an actuarial reduction in their retirement benefits since 1 January 2013.

They discussed the probe into bank charges

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou met last Friday, with the Cyprus News Agency citing sources to report that the main topic of discussion was the probe Herodotou is carrying out into the charges that the banks are imposing on their bank accounts and services. The two reportedly discussed various aspects to the aforementioned matter. Once Herodotou hands over the findings of his study, the Finance Minister may issue a decree setting a cap on the bank charges, if it is deemed necessary. The issue of banks’ charges has been discussed twice so far at the House Institutions Committee, in the presence of the CBC governor, on 6 November 2019 and 5 February 2020. The committee will discuss the matter anew on 4 March, in light of the findings of Herodotou’s probe. Committee Chairman Zacharias Zachariou has stated that the committee will apply all the influence it has to ensure that the excessive charges – some of which reach 300% – are lifted; especially for the vulnerable population groups such as pensioners, who are not able to use the internet or ATMs to carry out transactions digitally.

Strategic defaulters suddenly have money

The Estia scheme as well as foreclosures may not have had the anticipated results,  however there have been some positive side effects. Slowly but surely, the strategic defaulters are being unveiled. Bank sources tell Phileleftheros that borrowers who have the financial ability to repay their loans but consciously choose not to, have been turning up and paying their debts just as the auction procedure is about to begin to foreclose their property. Once they start receiving letters and are at immediate risk of losing their property, they visit the banks and try to find restructuring solutions, sometimes even depositing sums so as to reduce their debt. In other cases, the banks are aware that defaulters have deposits at other banks, but are not paying their loans.

Scope: Cyprus is resilient to pressure

Scope Ratings has listed Cyprus among the EU countries whose public finances have shown the greatest resilience to pressure in the event of a two-year worst-case scenario, in a report entitled “Fiscal risks and debt risks”. According to the agency, the debt index of the more resilient EU countries – such as Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Malta and Cyprus – increase by only 4 percentage points on average, in the event of a worst-case scenario with a two-year duration. It adds that the member states of the periphery of the Eurozone, alongside Romania, recorded the biggest increases of public debt in such a scenario. Scope said that for Romania, Spain and Ireland, it would be accompanied by a deterioration of primary fiscal balances, including the level of deficits by over 3% of GDP. In a worst-case scenario, the Irish economy will shrink by 7%, the Greek by 4.7%, the Italian and Romanian by 2.5% and the Spanish by 1.7%.

Discrimination

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that provides incentives to employees of the state and broader public sector to retire early within 45 days, without suffering an actuarial reduction of their pension benefits for their service as of 2013 onwards. The law, which was passed unanimously, aspires to save state coffers €65m. However, Alithia comments that it does not take into account the fact that the employees who will retire, due to the sum of their pension, will contribute almost nothing in income tax. By not collecting this tax from existing active employees, the state could lose up to €60m. Newly recruited employees will have lower salaries and so will not pay much in income tax. The new law also does not take into account the provident fund, which is under negotiation and which is expected to cost state coffers an additional 6% on the new payroll. And then there is the fact that the trade unions have tabled the creation of a new pension scheme. The paper urges the government to heed parliament’s advice to make similar arrangements for private sector employees, to be fair and not discriminate.

President Anastasiades aboard the Charles de Gaulle

A frequent French naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and in particular within the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus sends a clear message to those that aim to sow instability and tensions in the region, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said. According to an announcement issued by the Presidency, in his address today at the reception held on board the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle docked in Limassol port, President Anastasiades said that “it is a great pleasure to be on board of this imposing aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, the flagship of the French Navy”. Undoubtedly, he noted, “the deployment of France’s major aircraft carrier group to the Eastern Mediterranean region, and in particular here in Cyprus, is another testament of the on-going, qualitative upgrading of the relationship between Cyprus and France, a country which we consider both as a friend and a partner”. “This relationship is not only mutually beneficial but also of strategic importance that seeks to address the serious challenges that we face in our wider geographical area,” he added.

Green ammonia as fuel for ships

Ships could operate using ammonia within the next decade, as the shipping industry is active pursuing to reduce carbon emissions. This particular chemical is an essential component of fertilizers and can be burned in ship engines instead of diesel.  The industry hopes that ammonia will help it cope with climate change data as it burns without carbon dioxide emissions. The creation of the ammonia itself creates substantial CO2, but a report says technology can solve this problem. The challenge is huge, because shipping produces around 2% of global carbon emissions – about the same as the whole German economy.

Airbnb divides markets

Cyprus is once again behind European developments. While the anti-Airbnb movement is spreading across Europe, Cyprus has legislated the short-term leasing in the last weeks. In fact, the legislation provided for a two-year grace period for owners to comply. In our country, the first problems with the lack of available apartments on the market and the increase in rental prices have already begun to surface. However, the number of visitors staying in such accommodation is still low, although the trend shows that rentals are increasing year by year.  On a global stage, differences with the Airbnb platform began to surface. The Berlin government has frozen rental rates for five years, with similar measures being taken in Paris, Barcelona, Prague and others. In Cyprus, following the passing of the legislation, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, is looking into its implementation and the development of a a ‘Register of Self-Catering Accommodations’. According to Phileleftheros’ information, the Deputy Ministry is currently working on the provisions of the legislation and will issue an announcement within the next few weeks on the procedures to be followed by the owners of such accommodation in order to register their accommodations.

Targeting American tourists

The Deputy Ministry of Tourism is preparing the ground for attracting tourists faraway countries.  It has been a long-standing goal of Cypriot tourism providers to attract tourists from the US, Canada, India, China and more generally from distant countries of America and Asia. So far, US tourist numbers are very low. In 2018, 37,421 visitors visited the island from the US,  only 5,032 from China. The prospects for developing these markets are there, however, it is taken into account the fact that Cyprus is very small and a tourist coming from these countries will want to combine the visit with another destination. Thus, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism has is pursuing actions to work more closely together with Israel. Following intensive effort of more than three months to gather information, analysis, consultation and contacts, Cyprus has reached an agreement to promote common tourist packages. Israel is the first country where consultations are at a more advanced level for joint presentation of thematic tourist packages. Indeed, by the end of March, the Cypriot authorities – with the mediation of Israeli tour operators – will be contacting travel organizers in the US to discuss the details. Next, joint promotional actions with Israel targeting the US market will begin. It is noted that the Israelis have close relations with the Americans and there are frequent flights between the two countries.

Paphos Casino opens on Monday – all the details

The fourth and last satellite casino opens its doors on Monday, 24 February. According to SigmaLive’s sources, on Saturday 22 February, the National Gaming and Casino Commission greenlit its launch and so Paphos will now have its own satellite casino. The Cyprus Casino C2 Paphos will be located in the Geroskipou tourist area, at the end of the Thea Aphrodite Avenue. The C2 casino will have about 50 state-of-the-art gaming machines, in a building covering a 550sqm area. On Sunday, 23 February, there will be a soft launch and C2 Paphos will open on a trial basis so as to make sure that the staff and equipment is ready.

Significant promotion of Limassol in Israel

The Limassol Tourism Board presented the new projects of the Limassol district as well the comparative advantages of the area as a tourist destination in cooperation with the Tourism Deputy Ministry’s local office in Tel Aviv. The whole event was held in the framework of the IMTM 2020 expo. The modern Limassol was presented, as it has evolved today as were the characteristics that make it a popular destination for Israeli visitor and investors. Among other things, they showed a promotional video entitled Surprising Limassol, which received excellent comments by the attendees. Isreali tour operators and other professionals were especially impressed with the presentations of the Parklane Resort & Spa Limassol, Amara Hotel and the City of Dreams Mediterranean.

€323.9m wagered at slot machines

Larnakaonline publishes Phileleftheros’ article, reporting that Cypriots and foreign visitors wagered double the money they wagered last year at Cyprus Casinos. The gaming machine handle for the fourth quarter of 2019 was €323,9m, compared to €180.2m in the same period last year. According to Melco’s financial results, the gaming machine handle recorded a 55.6% increase compared to 2018. Moreover, the gaming machine win rate was 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2019 versus 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018. In fact, compared to the third quarter of 2019, the total sums played at gaming machines, marked a €43.5m increase. Based on Melco’s financial results, the casino’s rolling chip volume stood at €21.1m for the period between September and December. This sum was wagered by VIP players at table games such as roulette and black jack. The rolling chip win rate was 3.61% in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the expected rolling chip win rate range is 2.85% – 3.15%. It should be noted that compared to the third quarter of 2019, the sum that was wagered at these specific games dropped by €14m. On the other hand, mass market table games (other than VIP games) dropped by €31.4m in the fourth quarter of 2019, versus €32.2m in the fourth quarter of 2018. It should be noted that the mass market table games hold percentage was 19.8% in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to 16.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Based on the analysis of the results, the total sum wagered at these games amounted to €35.2m. According to Melco’s financial results, the total operating revenues at Cyprus Casinos were €22.8m for the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to €14.4m in the fourth quarter of 2018. Cyprus Casinos generated €19m in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization in the fourth quarter of 2019. The company also generated Adjusted EBITDA of €7.9m, compared to Adjusted EBITDA of €2.1m in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Cypriots love slot machines – $349.5m in bets

As above, with Brief reporting that Melco operates today a temporary casino in Limassol, the first licensed casino in the Republic of Cyprus, and three satellite casinos in Nicosia, Larnaca and Ayia Napa while the fourth one is expected to launch in the next 24 hours in Paphos, and specifically in the Geroskipou area. It should be noted that upon the launch of the operation of City of Dreams Mediterranean in 2021, Melco will continue to operate the fourth satellite casinos, while the temporary casino will cease operations.

How much did Cypriots bet at slot machines

As above, Omegalive reports that the casino operator has reported an increase in the money wagered at slot machines. Specifically, in the last quarter of 2019, players have wagered €323.9m only at slot machines, compared with €180.2 in the same period in 2018. According to Melco’s financial results, the total sum wagered at slot machines recorded a 55.6% increase in 2019 compared with 2018. At the same time, the slot machine win rate was 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2019 versus 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Melco puts its faith in Limassol casino-resort

Works for the construction of the integrated casino-resort in Limassol will not stop, Melco Resorts & Entertainment has stressed, despite the fact that it has taken measures in the countries its operates due to the coronavirus. According to the company’s announcement, it has taken some preventive measures, closing the casinos in Macau, while it has reassessed some of the non-vita investments the company had planned for 2020 – mainly in countries that are close to China. This however, does not affect the works for the completion of the City of Dreams Mediterranean in Limassol. The Chinese company seems to attribute special importance to the project and keep its targets as it comes to continuing works. The same goes for the Macau and Philippines casinos.

Paphos Casino opens on Monday – all the details

The fourth and last satellite casino opens its doors on Monday, 24 February. According to SigmaLive’s sources, on Saturday 22 February, the National Gaming and Casino Commission greenlit its launch and so Paphos will now have its own satellite casino. The Cyprus Casino C2 Paphos will be located in the Geroskipou tourist area, at the end of the Thea Aphrodite Avenue. The C2 casino will have about 50 state-of-the-art gaming machines, in a building covering a 550sqm area. On Sunday, 23 February, there will be a soft launch and C2 Paphos will open on a trial basis so as to make sure that the staff and equipment is ready.

Paphos casino opens today (opposite Ivi Mare hotel)

As above. Brief reports that the Paphos casino, which is due to open its doors today 24/2 at 4pm, will be open on a daily basis 11 hours a day (from 4pm to 3am) and on a 24-hour basis on Sunday and holidays. The satellite Paphos casino will cover 550sqm and will have 50 slot machines, while the visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy delicious snacks by Columbia Bistro. The Paphos casino, which is located on Thea Aphrodite Avenue in Geroskipou, will be opposite Louis Ivi Mare, will employ 25 people, which have been trained so as to best serve the public. It should be noted that this is the fourth satellite casino by Melco in Cyprus, after Nicosia, Larnaca and Ayia Napa. Moreover, Melco operates a temporary casino in Limassol. It is also worth noting that with the launch of the integrated casino-resort City of Dreams Mediterranean, Melco will continue to operate the four satellite casinos, while the temporary casino in Limassol will cease operations. It is noted that entry to the casinos is free, while only individuals over 21 years old can enter the casinos. The article goes on to report on Melco’s financial results for 2019 noting that Cypriots bet most of their money at slot machines.

People make the numbers

After reporting the Cypriot gamblers wagered a total of €323.9m only in the last quarter of 2019 on gaming machines at the Cyprus Casinos, Phileleftheros’ author, Christos Michaelides says in his column “People make the numbers” that gambling does not concern him – he believes and knows that it has destroyed a lot of people and doesn’t know anyone who has come out ahead. At the same time, he recognises that the government and the businesses profit from these destroyed lives, profits which the return to society. This relates to the fact that Melco has committed to contribute to the reduction of plastic, promoting a circular economy (meaning a system that aims to abolish waste with the repeated use/recycling of sources) in all of its international business operations.

A look at the past week

Phileleftheros reports on the main events of the past week, reporting that the money that Cypriots and foreign visitors wagered at the Cyprus Casinos doubled in only a year. In the last quarter of 2019, the players have wagered €323.9m in slot machines compared with €180.2m in the same period last year.

Melco took part in IMTM

Melco Cyprus participated in the 26th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) Conference and Exhibition which was held a few days ago in in Tel Aviv, presenting the highly anticipated City of Dreams Mediterranean Integrated Casino Resort (ICR) to Israeli tour operators and other tourism stakeholders. Melco Cyprus also participated in an event entitled “Limassol Reborn”, which was organised by the Tel Aviv office of Cyprus’ Deputy Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with the Limassol Tourism Board. The event aimed at presenting exciting new additions to the city of Limassol that will enhance the overall tourism experience. City of Dreams Mediterranean was also represented in the Deputy Ministry of Tourism’s pavilion at the Exhibition. Melco Cyprus’ Marketing Manager, Ms. Skevi Vasiliou, gave a presentation showcasing the unique paradigm shifting entertainment experience of City of Dreams Mediterranean as well as the ICR’s luxurious facilities and services. Speaking from the expo, Ms. Vasiliou saying that Israel is an important target market for Cyprus and City of Dreams Mediterranean. City of Dreams Mediterranean will be located in Zakaki, Limassol. It will feature a sixteen-story Five-Star hotel with 500 guest rooms and suites as well as MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions) facilities covering 9,600 sq. meters. The gaming area covers a total 7,500 sq. meters and will include over 100 tables and 1,000 state-of-the-art gaming machines.

Significant promotion of Limassol in Israel

The Limassol Tourism Board presented the new projects of the Limassol district as well the comparative advantages of the area as a tourist destination in cooperation with the Tourism Deputy Ministry’s local office in Tel Aviv. The whole event was held in the framework of the IMTM 2020 expo. The modern Limassol was presented, as it has evolved today as were the characteristics that make it a popular destination for Israeli visitor and investors. Among other things, they showed a promotional video entitled Surprising Limassol, which received excellent comments by the attendees. Israeli tour operators and other professionals were especially impressed with the presentations of the Parklane Resort & Spa Limassol, Amara Hotel and the City of Dreams Mediterranean.

Careful when carrying out prescriptions

The Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, answering to Greens’ MP George Perdikis’ request to be updated, said that the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) is usually receiving complaints that pharmacists are allegedly charging more than the legally established €1 contribution and/or interfere with the determination of the contribution II, thereby charging patients with higher amounts. Other complains concerned the receipts patients receive when buying medicines from pharmacies, as according to beneficiaries it only shows the amount that they have to pay without any explanation. The HIO has also received complaints regarding mistakes that have happened while carrying out prescriptions, resulting in filling out the prescription of another patient. Due to these complaints, according to the Health Minister, it was deemed necessary that pharmacies print out a relevant document, so as to avoid mistakes when carrying out prescriptions, and allow beneficiaries to confirm the medicines and contributions.

The first vaccine in April

The first vaccine to prevent the coronavirus infection, that has claimed the lives of 2,236 people in China and internationally, will begin clinical trials around the end of April. The companies that have resumed operations must ensure proper ventilation of workplaces and ensure a safe distance between workers.

Nurses demand immediate solutions

PASYDY’s nurses are demanding that OKYPY provides solutions immediately. There are many problems in the remote and rural areas, but also in Kyperounta Hospital, while state hospitals are generally faced with many problems. However, unfortunately OKYPY appears to have been having trouble in solving them, said the union head Prodromos Argyrides. Argyrides highlighted that the sector held meetings recently with the president of the board of directors of the organisation and received commitments of which the implementation are expected soon.

Provide solutions to hospitals

The Health Minister has sent a clear message to OKYPY, that the State has granted the organisation all the necessary tools so as to promote processes and find solutions for the problems facing the public health sector. Meanwhile, he made it clear to the unions of state hospitals workers that all government structures are subject to OKYPY and should be addressed to it. A superior worker at the Health Minister’s office has confirmed information that had recently come to light that the Minister is annoyed with the way the organisation has been handling the problems of state hospitals.

Increased contribution to GHS after 1 March

The Health Minister highlighted that the reforms in the health industry, with GHS as its crown jewel, will bring radical changes to Cypriot society, meanwhile expressing the State’s determination to implement these changes as it considers them to be in the citizens’ benefit. Ioannou said that the challenges continue to exist, and surely there are a lot to be done before the system smooths out, adding that this is a complete restructure of the health sector. As expected, the system requires time before it can show its full potential. He noted than on 1 March, beneficiaries will begin contributing an increased amount, which will include the services introduced at the GHS’ second phase of implementation.

 Racing for the second phase of the GHS

OKYPY and HIO are both racing in view of the second phase of the GHS. The biggest risk is the readiness of hospitals, both public and private, with  both organisations having a of pending matters before the beginning of the implementation in June. The HIO has already started negotiating with more than 40 hospitals that have expressed interest to participate in the GHS. The organisation is satisfied with the number of interested hospitals as they will meet the needs of all districts. Also, the HIO must race for a lot of legal matters concerning the second phase that concern the operations of hospitals in the GHS, as well as the A&E departments, which are expected to be ready by early April. It is also working on economical factor with other health professionals, including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, psychologists, dentists, speech therapists, who will provide services in the second phase. Meanwhile, OKYPY is under fire to pick up the pace in order to solve the problems of the state hospitals so as they are ready on 1 June in the new environment of the GHS.

Mediterranean Hospital invests €50m

The private hospital Mediterranean Hospital of Limassol has agreed with Advanced Oncotherapy PLC, to purchase a light proton anti-cancer treatment system. This is not only an important financial agreement of €50m, says the official announcement. This light proton therapy system is designed to increase the effectiveness of treatment and improve the quality of life of patients by reducing side effects.

Mission Winnow gives Ferrari headaches

Philip Morris International’s (PMI) sponsorship to SF1000 is giving headaches to Ferrari again. Ferrari SF1000 showed up on Tuesday 12 February, carrying the Mission Winnow brand (same as last year), a company owned by PMI. It has been contested because it is considered indirect tobacco advertising, which is prohibited. However, Mission Winnow does not deal with tobacco products, while it’s a part of PMI it takes the PMI brand name into the next step, away from tobacco products.

A million less smokers by the end of 2021

Two years following the completion of €300m worth of investments, with which Papastratos has completely stopped producing cigarettes, the moment has come to take the next big step #prostokalytero, leaving cigarettes in the last decade. Papastratos has announced a very bold goal to have a million less smokers by the end of 2021! An ambitious goal that will lead to the rapid decline to the number of smokers (of about 50%), and includes smokers who will either stop smoking entirely or turn to better alternatives, such as heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes.

Oceans flooded with plastic

Data showing the environmental impact of plastic are shocking. Reportedly, 80% of the total litter that finds its way to the ocean is plastic, while half of the litter found on EU beaches is single-use-plastics. Brussels urge the need to tackle environmental problems stemming from the incorrect disposal of plastics, and calls national governments, industries and local authorities to contribute to this end. The EU is developing its plastic strategy focusing on a circular approach to plastic litter, aiming at both the economic benefits it brings as well as the protection of the environment.

 

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