Monthly Archives: June 2010

Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Our View: AKEL email confirms what we all knew to be the system

THE MEDIA had field day with the internal AKEL email about political favours, which was intended for party boss Andros Kyprianou but was mistakenly sent to journalists. It was not that journalists had discovered something they did not know, but this time they had the documentation to support the widely-held view that rusfeti (political favours) was rampant, regardless of what the president would have us believe.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Spy suspect arrested leaving Cyprus

A MAN suspected of being the 11th member of a US spy ring allegedly working for Russia was arrested and released on bail in Cyprus yesterday.

Robert Christopher Metsos, 54, was arrested at Larnaca airport as he tried to leave the island for Budapest at around 3am yesterday, police said. By midday, the Larnaca District Court released Canadian passport-holder Metsos on €26,500 bail, after he deposited €20,000 and CAN$9,000 in cash, to reappear in court within 30 days, when an extradition hearing will start.

It is highly unusual for Cyprus courts to issue bail for foreign nationals pending extradition. In court hearings prosecutors frequently cite the risk of flight via the north.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

AKEL’s ‘fair society’ branded a distasteful joke

RULING AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou yesterday tried to play down an email containing requests for nepotism sent to the media by accident by his secretary.

Other parties were quick to criticise AKEL when it is well known that nepotism is a major component of Cypriot political life.

“I am truly sorry because it is attempted – for obvious reasons – by some to give the matter dimensions it does not have,” Kyprianou told state radio. The story broke on Monday when Kyprianou’s secretary sent to the media by accident his phone messages, which included details of a deal over who was being suggested for a senior public sector job.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Cheap cigarettes to stay despite ailing public finances

THE GOVERNMENT has no plans to raise cigarette duty to meet the EU average, despite having the heaviest smokers in the union, high instances of heart disease and a huge gap in public finances, sources in the Finance Ministry said yesterday.

According to a Eurostat report released this week, the cost of tobacco products in Cyprus is 12 per cent below the EU average at a time when the burgeoning budget deficit is over €1 billion and smoking is a leading cause of death and healthcare costs.

According to one anti-smoking campaigner, it is imperative that the government follow the lead of other EU countries, such as the UK, where increased taxes have successfully deterred smokers.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Up to a quarter of hotel workers undeclared

UNDECLARED employment in the hotel and restaurant sectors has reached 25 per cent, the labour minister said yesterday.

Sotiroulla Charalambous said over the past year the ministry’s officials carried out some 4,000 inspections in workplaces, which employed 12,500 people.

The inspections found that some 24 to 25 per cent of employees had not been declared, the minister said.

The highest percentage of undeclared employment is among EU and third country workers.

Charalambous said measures were taken to assure the employers’ compliance and those who fail to fall in line are prosecuted.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

State could lose €91 million if road tax scrapped

THE state stands to lose €91 million if it scraps road tax as some MPs have suggested, it emerged yesterday.

The House Communications Committee yesterday discussed amending the law to do away with road tax for cars due to the steep increase in fuel tax.

But the committee heard from the government that such a move would put a significant strain on state finances.

“It is an undisputed fact that scrapping this tax would limit the revenue, which in 2009 reached €91 million,” communications ministry permanent secretary Makis Constantinides told MPs.

He pointed out that the issue at this point was not the fairness or unfairness of the system, but the way state finances would be affected.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Migrants are ‘dirty’ and ‘uncivilised’ schoolchildren say

MORE THAN half of school students consider migrants to be ‘dirty’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘uncivilised’ a survey on migrants showed yesterday.

Against a backdrop of increasing numbers of foreign children in the island’s schools, 54 per cent of the 10 to 16-year-olds questioned (1,280) have a negative stance towards migrants.

The students that revealed a negative or mildly negative view were found to express feeling of dislike, indifference, disgust, avoidance and fear, viewing migrants as “dirty”, “bad”, “dangerous”, “uncivilised” and “criminals”. Their perceptions appeared to revolve around ideas such as that “migrants make Cyprus worse, they steal jobs from Cypriots, they are responsible for the increased crime rate and they constitute a threat to national identity”.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Limassol is cheaper than Brighton

DESPITE THE spiraling cost of living on the island, it is still cheaper to holiday in Limassol than in Brighton, according to a recent study by Tesco Bank.

The study, which did not factor in the cost of transport to the local British destination or Cyprus, showed that a typical one-week holiday for a family of four in August, including accommodation, car hire, eating out and family entertainment would cost £1,739 (€2,150) in Limassol, and £2,209 (€2,733) in Brighton.

The cheapest destination was Sofia at £1,221 (€1,510), while the most expensive, Reykjavik, cost an eye watering £3,383 (€4,185).

John Howells, head of travel money at Tesco Bank, said holiday costs have been impacted by the euro exchange rate.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

Private jet ‘is the cheapest way to fly’

HIRING A private jet on an exceptional basis for President Demetris Christofias to travel abroad is the most economically appropriate solution in view of the limited scheduled service to Brussels, according to government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.

“It is well-known that our joining the European Union has created greater travel needs,” Stefanou said, emphasising that Christofias does not use a hired private for all his foreign trips.

“The jet is used only in exceptional circumstances, for example for the recent EU summits. The President had to go straight to Brussels and then come back the next day because among other things, he had meetings within the framework of the talks (with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu),” he added.

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Archives June 30, 2010 posted by

How the other half live

In terms of doing things in style, the Sultan of Brunei has a fleet of VIP aircraft, including two Gulfstream V, a Gulfstream IV, an Extended Range Boeing 767-200 and a Boeing 747-400. The enormously wealthy Sultan bought the 747 for around $100 million, and then spent another $120 million having it decorated with solid gold and crystal.

The Gulfstream G550 is the executive jet of choice for Turkey, Kuwait and Tanzania, among others. The Greek Air Force operates two Gulfstream G500s – equipped with anti-missile systems – for transporting government officials and VIPs.

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