Daily Archives: February 12, 2013

Archives February 12, 2013 posted by

Eurogroup asks for Cyprus audit

A SUMMIT of eurozone finance ministers decided yesterday that a private-sector auditor would probe Cyprus’ compliance with anti-money-laundering regulations but the island drew no clear support from  its partners on its refusal to impose losses on bank depositors as part of a bailout programme.

Speaking at a press briefing in Brussels last night, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the private firm would investigate both the legal framework in place as well as enforcement.

Cypriot authorities and the troika – a team of EU, IMF and European Central Bank experts – would jointly select the auditor and determine its terms of reference.

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Our View: Would giving the troika a say in managing natural gas be such a disaster?

SPEAKING in the Netherlands’ lower house in The Hague last week, the new head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that revenues from natural gas could be included in calculations to make the Cyprus debt sustainable. Proceeds from the sale of gas, he said, could be paid into a separate account that could be used to service the national debt, adding, however that certain questions needed to be answered first. 

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Cyprus aid ‘not a one-way street’


EUROPEAN Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen has warned that Cyprus could default if there was a delay in granting financial assistance to the island, putting at risk the progress achieved in the eurozone last year.

Asmussen believed an aid package for Cyprus will be ready by the end of next month, he told the German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview published yesterday.

“I expect the aid programme for Cyprus will be in place by the end of March,” he said, adding that politicians in his native Germany should not try to delay a controversial decision on Cyprus until after a German federal election in September.

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Prices drop for some meds but new ‘transaction fee’ for prescriptions


THE HEALTH ministry released a new price list for pharmaceuticals yesterday revealing some reductions in expensive drugs, a price-freeze on prescription meds under €10 and increases in over-the-counter (OTC) products.

But consumers’ groups have condemned the hike in OTC medicines, and  the limited overall reductions, and criticised the health ministry for setting a €1.0 transaction fee for prescriptions processed in the private sector.

The price list contains 4,191 medications, of which the prices of less than half have been reduced. Prices have gone down for 1,892 medicines, the prices for 1,815 are unchanged, and 484 have had their price increased, the head of the pharmaceutical services, Arthur Isseyegh said.

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Candidates butt heads on economy and domestic issues


THE THREE main contenders in Sunday’s presidential elections yesterday discussed the economy and domestic policy for the third and final televised live debate, broadcast by four main TV channels Sigma, Ant1, CyBC and Mega.

A number of protesters claiming to have been duped by banks into investing in risky bonds were waiting for the candidates to show up outside state broadcaster CyBC. 

Tensions arose when AKEL-backed Stavros Malas passed them by at the gate but he did return to speak to them, defusing the situation. DISY leader Nicos Anastasiades and EDEK-backed Giorgos Lillikas also took a moment to talk to the protesters, all claiming they would support them.

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More promises from candidates as elections draws near

PRESIDENTIAL frontrunner Nicos Anastasiades yesterday unveiled a proposal that would allow people to demand legislation passed by parliament – under certain conditions — on matters that affect them.

“The only condition is that 10,000 signatures must be collected within four months,” Anastasiades’ spokesman Tasos Mitsopoulos said.

After confirming the signatures, the recommendation would be forwarded to the relevant parliamentary committee that must discuss it in three months.

“The committee is obliged to announce its conclusions and decide whether to send the proposal to plenum (for voting) or reject it,” Mitsopoulos said. “Through this proposal, Nicos Anastasiades seeks to bolster public participation.”

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DISY leader widens his lead

MAIN opposition DISY leader Nicos Anastasiades has widened his lead over his two main challengers a week before presidential elections, three polls showed on Sunday, as voters looked for a fresh pair of hands to revive their struggling economy.

Support for Anastasiades rose above 40 per cent in two opinion polls by the Phileleftheros and the Kathimerini newspapers, while state broadcaster CyBC put his rating at 39.8 per cent.

In all three cases, the polls showed at least a 15-point margin over his closest rival, Stavros Malas who is backed by ruling AKEL.

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Daily dose of mudslinging

AS SUNDAY’S presidential elections edge closer, ruling party AKEL yesterday accused the election forerunner of arrogance, and EDEK-backed Giorgos Lillikas threatened a daily newspaper with a lawsuit. 

AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loucaides yesterday said forerunner DISY leader Nicos Anastasiades was arrogant and provocative, if his representatives were anything to go by.

One of DISY’s deputies stated during an afternoon TV talk show that Anastasiades would be the next president of the republic, Loucaides said.

“If Anastasiades’ crew behaves in this provocative and arrogant way, the public can only be left vulnerable and in fear over how Anastasiades would behave if he were elected president,” Loucaides said.

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‘A new era of strategic partnership’

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday signed an agreement transferring 30 per cent of Noble Energy’s gas exploitation rights on offshore Block 12 to Avner Oil & Gas and Delek Drilling, the US firm’s Israeli partners.

Avner and Delek Drilling are the arms of the Delek Group, a supplier of fuel and one of Israel’s largest companies.

Noble’s request to transfer 30 per cent of its rights was approved by the Cabinet a week ago.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said the deal opens up “a new era of strategic partnership between Cyprus and Israel” with both economic and political ramifications.

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Five crew killed in ship drill

FIVE crew members died in an emergency drill on a Cypriot- owned cruise ship in the Canary Islands on Sunday.

Cables snapped on a lifeboat and it plunged 20 metres to the ocean and fell upside down, killing the five and injuring three others aboard, during the mock rescue exercise on the Thomson Majesty, operated by British travel group TUI Travel plc and owned by Cyprus-based Louis.

The boat was docked in the port of the capital of the island of La Palma, Santa Cruz.

Safety tests on lifeboats are a significant source of accidents, according to a report by Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

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