Daily Archives: January 15, 2013

Archives January 15, 2013 posted by

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Archives January 15, 2013 posted by

Candidate focus on financial woes

The first televised live presidential debate for next month’s elections took place yesterday with the three main contenders focusing on the economy and the responsibilities that a future administration will have to shoulder in the wake of the long-awaited bailout agreement and a forthcoming time of austerity.
Inevitably much of the debate dealt with the banks, the troika and the financial crisis in general, but each candidate was quizzed on topics specific to their candidacies.
AKEL-backed Stavros Malas, who also served as health minister for the current administration, was repeatedly asked to justify the government’s handling of the economy.

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Our View: Imperative to tackle damaging allegations of money laundering

THE ALLEGATIONS of money laundering that have featured prominently in the German press recently and have been taken up by German politicians should not be ignored or dismissed lightly, because if they are not dealt with in an effective way, they could put at risk Cyprus’ future as an international financial centre.
It would be a grave error to allow the final memorandum of understanding to go for approval to the Bundestag, without these allegations having been proved unfounded. Responding with similar allegations against Germany, as some politicians have done, or claiming that Germany wants to take our Russian clients might satisfy local opinion, but it will not achieve anything.

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Insurance payout reveals state liability for Mari blast

FOR THE first time since the Mari blast of July 2011, the state appears to have openly accepted civil liability for the incident, having agreed to pay a large chunk of the repair costs for the damaged Vassilikos power plant.
The admission – albeit an indirect one – came from Attorney-general Petros Clerides during a discussion at the House finance committee yesterday. Clerides informed MPs of the deal clinched between the state and the insurers and re-insurers of the power station.
The parties agreed to settle out of court, whereby the electricity authority (EAC) will receive €132.5m in total from the plant’s insurers, Atlantic Insurance. Some €30m has already been paid out to the EAC.

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Key navy officials were not told of containers’ contents

EVEN KEY navy officials including fire safety personnel were kept in the dark over the contents of the containers held at the Evangelos Florakis naval base that exploded in July 2011 killing 13 people, Larnaca Assize court was told yesterday.
The head of the navy’s communication department at the time, Greek national Theodoros Groutsis, told the court that when he saw flames coming from some of the 98 containers in the early hours of July 11, the day of the blast, he deduced that the containers held gunpowder.
When Groutsis heard the navy commander and one of the blast’s victims, Andreas Ioannides, asking for helicopters to extinguish the fire, he told him, “you can’t extinguish gunpowder with water, let’s go”.

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Screws tighten with VAT hike

THERE was more misery for consumers yesterday as VAT rose by one percentage point to 18 per cent, bumping up the already high cost of electricity and fuel.
It was the second increase in VAT in 10 months, in line with measures included in a preliminary bailout agreement with international lenders.
In March last year, VAT went up by two percentage points to 17 per cent. It is set to rise to 19 per cent in 2014.
The new rate will affect the price of a number of goods and services including petrol, electricity, telecommunications, alcohol, tobacco, and clothes.
The reduced VAT rates of 5.0 per cent on food and drugs and 8.0 per cent charged by hotels, restaurants and public transport, remain unaffected.

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Airport threat leads to flood of fine payments

A POLICE campaign to target those who haven’t paid their fines by stopping them at airports has led to a deluge of offers from offenders seeking to pay their outstanding debts, police said yesterday.
Police have so far collected over €390,000 in outstanding warrants since the new campaign began on January 7, with people calling in at police stations to see if they owe the state money, police officer Demetris Pitsillides said yesterday.
The ‘voluntary’ payments far exceed the €14,500 collected from executing 80 warrants from those stopped at airports.
“It’s a small amount compared to the sum total of received payments that comes to a bit over €390,000 involving 800 warrants,” Pitsillides told state broadcaster CyBC.

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Shiarly defends record on transparency

CYPRUS is not a hub for money laundering and eurozone peers should decide quickly on the island’s bailout bid, Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly told a German newspaper on Sunday.
“Nobody has proved so far that we offend against the rules or even support money laundering,” Shiarly told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview. “We see our future as a serious financial centre. That’s why we want to be one step ahead of our European partners in financial market regulation in future.”
Shiarly said money laundering existed everywhere, including in Germany, but that Cyprus was fighting it resolutely.

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Officials arrive for Pimco discussions

MEMBERS of a steering committee tasked with overseeing the due diligence on bank portfolios were expected on the island yesterday to iron out differences with Cypriot authorities over the methodology used.
The due diligence will determine the capital needs of the financial sector in line with a preliminary bailout agreement.
The results of the review, carried out by US-based investment management firm Pimco, are expected on Friday.
“The members of the steering committee will be in Cyprus to discuss some elements of Pimco’s methodology for which there is disagreement,” Central Bank spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou said yesterday.

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Bank of Cyprus cuts staff by 300 in Greece

BANK OF CYPRUS (BoC), the island’s biggest lender, said yesterday it has cut staff in Greece by 300 people through a voluntary exit programme expected to reduce its payroll by some 12 per cent per year.
The lender, forced to seek state support after incurring heavy losses from its exposure to Greek debt, said it has also cut its branch network by 11, bringing the total number down to 177.
“Further cuts in the network are scheduled in 2013,” BoC said.
BoC said the latest departures will cut staff down to 2,650 from 3,077 at the beginning of 2012.
The bank’s current payroll is €110 million per year.

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