Daily Archives: July 9, 2010

Archives July 9, 2010 posted by

Our view: What hope for us when union bosses are the economic advisors?

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund officials last Monday repeated what everyone, with an ounce of economic sense, has been telling the government for more than a year now. Unless it controlled state expenditure and in particular the public sector wage-bill it would not meet the target of bringing the budget deficit to below three per cent by 2013.

This was a statement of the obvious, but when it comes to economics nothing is obvious to the Christofias government which has been operating under the illusion that it could reduce the deficit by increasing revenue during the worst recession we have experienced. Apart from the IMF, the European Commission and the Governor of the Central Bank had also said that fiscal consolidation had to be based on controlling expenditure.

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House rejects corporate tax bill


THE government’s proposed increase in corporate and immovable property tax were yesterday rejected by majority vote at the House Plenum, blocking one of the government’s measures to assist the island’s fragile economic recovery.

The discussion lasted well over two hours, with MPs from ruling AKEL coming into conflict with almost all other sides, especially opposition DISY and coalition partner DIKO.

Ideological statements flew back and forth, with left-wing AKEL being accused of imposing communist measures that could have dire effects on the economy and AKEL responding by accusing “some parties” of promoting neo-liberal economic policy and being “in love” with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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MPs’ anger over reports Christofias might re-appoint previous CyTA board members

AN MP’s jibe that President Christofias is living in fantasy land triggered a heated row in parliament, one of the highlights of yesterday’s marathon session of the plenum, the last before summer recess.

During debate at the House, European Party deputy Ricos Erotocritou referred to the resignation this week of the entire board of CyTA (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority) which has been rattled by allegations of financial scandals.

The President now has to decide whom to select for the vacant board, with reports suggesting some of the previous board members could be re-appointed.

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Electricity bill hike to fund renewable energy

ELECTRICITY bills have increased as of yesterday, after parliament unanimously passed a law that will double the levy paid by consumers to fund renewable energy sources (RES).

The new increase follows the 1.9 per cent increase on electricity in March due to EU obligations. The specific levy will increase from 0.22 cents per KW to 0.44 cents per KW and translates into an average €22 annual increase on consumers’ bills, as explained by the Chairman of the House European Affairs Committee when the law was discussed.

The money will be submitted to the special RES fund and be used to promote RES, as part of Cyprus’ commitment to the EU to reduce carbon emissions and create RES until the year 2020.

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MPs agree to wage cut

A LAW proposal to cut MPs’ annual pay by 10 per cent for two years was yesterday unanimously approved by the House Plenum.

The proposal was submitted to the plenum yesterday morning, before it began marathon discussions on 105 bills and law proposals.

The proposal, submitted by the House President and Director of the House, was passed as a matter of urgency.

All parties except AKEL had agreed to the cut, with the ruling party saying it would submit its views during the plenary discussion.

AKEL leader Nicos Katsourides yesterday said his party believed the matter shouldn’t be regulated by law but instead be left to individual MPs’ discretion to take a pay cut.

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Law tightens control of private university fees

HIKES in the fees of private universities will from now on be subject to the approval of the Education Ministry.

Under a law passed by parliament last night, each private university will submit their proposed increases in tuition and other fees to the ministry, which will then decide whether the increases are justified.

In addition, the Education Minister has the power to issue a yearly cap on fee increases. Under the new law, the maximum hike permissible can be no greater than 150 per cent of the rate of inflation of the previous fiscal year.

Parliament also gave the green light to the introduction and implementation of biometric passports as of this autumn.

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End to costly financial disputes in court

PARLIAMENT yesterday unanimously approved the creation of a Financial Ombudsman, offering a cheaper and more simplified option of dealing with economic disputes.

According to the law, which was submitted to the House Legal Affairs Committee in 2007 and only reached the Plenum yesterday, consumers can apply to the Ombudsman to seek out-of-court settlements on disputes with financial institutions (FI).

Consumers will be able to submit complaints of a financial nature and the Ombudsman can mediate and arrange a friendly out-of-court settlement.

The measure doesn’t include co-op banks and the Ombudsman’s decisions won’t be legally binding. The Body will also be able to examine and resolve cross-border financial disputes.

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Downer: talks ‘going fine’

THE pace of the talks aimed at resolving the Cyprus issue “is fine at the moment” following the gap caused by the election of Dervis Eroglu as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after meeting President Demetris Christofias at the presidential palace yesterday morning, ahead of today’s resumption of the talks, Downer said that “they had to get the talks going after the ‘elections’ in the north so obviously there was a down period. There was a re-launch of the talks. They are going fine now. The pace of the talks is fine at the moment.”

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Boy’s hopes rest on Boston hospital

FOUR-YEAR-OLD “little angel” Pavlos Kleovolou is set to depart for Boston, USA, next month to receive the life saving medical treatment his family has so desperately been trying to raise money for since January.

“We still have a long way to go though,” said a member of the Kleovolou family support group Andri Tsavella, referring to the amount of money that is needed. More events are coming up in the coming weeks as part of the ‘Save Pavlos’ campaign, which aims to collect enough money to support Pavlos’ expensive year-long stay at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

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