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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-15

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Friday, January 15, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government confirms offer to suspend arms purchases
  • [02] Armoured vehicle hits column of soldiers
  • [03] Police comb coastal area for missing migrants
  • [04] Million pound subsidy to save soccer from bankruptcy
  • [05] Maronite held as spy suspect
  • [06] Business group might meet again in Athens
  • [07] Divorce rates continue to rise
  • [08] Mergers highlight need for monopoly legislation
  • [09] Car owners could face tax bill as Customs probe import scam
  • [10] Explosion kills four on Cyprus ship
  • [11] British CAA to open regulatory office in Cyprus
  • [12] Unficyp cuts could cost local jobs
  • [13] Greens appeal for traffic safety outside schools

  • [01] Government confirms offer to suspend arms purchases

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT is to hold off on new armaments purchases for a "reasonable time" to give the UN a chance to implement its call for reductions of troops and armaments on the island, President Clerides has stated.

    But this does not represent another concession in the wake of the S-300 climbdown, the government was keen to stress yesterday.

    In a letter sent to UN Secretary general Kofi Annan on January 7, and widely leaked yesterday, Clerides promises to postpone the signing of fresh armaments deals - but only temporarily.

    Recent reports have suggested the government is considering buying short- range Russian TOR-M1 missiles to replace the S-300 long-range ground-to-air missiles - which were last month redirected to Crete.

    "In view of the fact that certain agreements for the purchase of arms and military equipment necessary for the defence of the Cyprus Republic are ready for signature while others are waiting completion, I cannot postpone indefinitely their completion," Clerides's letter states.

    "I, therefore, hope that I will within a reasonable time hear from Your Excellency that the other side has accepted in toto and not selectively operative paragraphs 4 and 5 of Security Council resolution 1218."

    The resolution, adopted on December 22 last year, called on Annan to secure a staged process for the reduction of troops and armaments on the island. It paved the way for the government to bow to international pressure and cancel deployment of the Russian S-300 missiles on December 29 last year.

    In his letter, Clerides notes that his decision not to bring the S-300s shows his "readiness to comply with resolution 1218".

    Both Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and government spokesman Christos Stylianides were at pains yesterday to stress that Clerides was not promising an indefinite freeze on arms purchases.

    "The President does not refer to an arms freeze. The President proves his good will to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the resolution," Cassoulides said.

    "The President is not speaking of a freeze on armaments. The President is indicating his good intention to comply with the resolutions," Stylianides echoed during his daily press briefing. Neither man stated how long the government would wait before going ahead with fresh armaments purchases.

    "We did not impose any time limits. We do not send ultimatums," Cassoulides said.

    Stylianides expressed regret that the letter had been leaked.

    "The government did not want this letter publicised at this specific time, for reasons that I don't want to analyse right now."

    The leader of governing Disy, Nicos Anastassiades, welcomed the letter as a "good will" measure.

    But the spokesman for main opposition party Akel, Andreas Christou, said the letter represented a U-turn for the government.

    During his 1993 election campaign, Clerides had staunchly opposed a similar UN proposal for arms reductions, Christou claimed.

    "We have accepted something that we resisted for years," the Akel man said.

    He added that Clerides had never informed the National Council of his intention to send a letter to Annan, a statement confirmed later in the day by Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou.

    Stylianides said Clerides had, before the leak, intended to inform party leaders of the letter.

    Former Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, who resigned in protest at the S- 300 redirection, said there should be no freeze on armaments purchases unless the Turkish side first agreed to demilitarisation.

    The decision to cancel deployment of the S-300 missiles in Cyprus has sparked a new flurry in diplomatic efforts to break the deadlock on the Cyprus problem. UN representative Dame Anne Hercus was last night meeting British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on her way to top level consultations in New York, while British envoy Sir David Hannay is due in Cyprus later this month.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [02] Armoured vehicle hits column of soldiers

    By Martin Hellicar

    ONE NATIONAL Guardsman was killed and another seriously injured yesterday when an armoured vehicle ploughed into a column of soldiers after an army exercise in the Larnaca area.

    It happened at around 10.45am as soldiers were leaving the Kalo Chorio firing range, the Defence Ministry said.

    Michalis Pentaliotis, 19, from Ayios Dometios in Nicosia, was run over by the armoured vehicle - a Cascavel - and died of serious abdominal injuries.

    Fellow conscript Constantinos Prodromou, 19, from Engomi in Nicosia, suffered a broken leg and three broken ribs after being hit by the vehicle. His condition was later described as serious but stable. Trainee officer Christos Topouzis suffered minor injuries in the same incident.

    Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

    Pentaliotis and Prodromou were flown to Nicosia by police helicopter after the accident, but Pentaliotis was declared dead on arrival at the general hospital.

    Chrysostomis, President Clerides and House President Spyros Kyprianou all visited the hospital to offer their condolences to the grieving parents.

    The victim's father, Modestos, is the chief of Civil Defence and his mother is employed at the Presidential Palace.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [03] Police comb coastal area for missing migrants

    By Anthony O. Miller

    POLICE were last night still combing the Ayia Napa area for almost half the 50 or so boat people dumped ashore on Wednesday night.

    Helicopters, vehicle and foot patrols, and coast guard vessels were all involved in the search.

    By yesterday morning, police had arrested 29 of the illegal immigrants. They were remanded in custody for eight days following their appearance around noon at the Larnaca District Court.

    Of the 29 boat people arrested, 18 were Iraqis (most of them Kurds), six Egyptians, two Somalis, and one each from Burundi, Sri Lanka and the Palestinian Territory. Many of them lacked travel documents, police said.

    Police said they were tipped off to the immigrants' arrival on Wednesday night by a fisherman, who saw them landing in two boats in the Cape Greco area, east of Ayia Napa. Twelve of the boat people were arrested at a hotel on the Paralimni coast.

    Those apprehended told police they had paid between $400 and $2,000 apiece to the owners of the two boats - one from Turkey, the other from the Lebanese port of Tripoli - for passage to what they were told would be Rhodes or Italy.

    The two boats fled Cyprus after dropping off their human cargo, and were the objects of a helicopter and coast guard search yesterday, Interior Ministry Acting Director Andreas Philippides said.

    Philippides said the illegal immigrants' arrival seemed "proof" that Lebanese authorities had failed to keep any promise they might have made to try to halt the human wave of boat people washing up from Lebanon onto Cyprus shores.

    He acknowledged that officials had gone to Beirut last year to discuss the problem of boatloads of illegal immigrants setting out from Lebanon and ending up in Cyprus. "We had some consultations with Lebanon. I don't know the contents. It seems that we are having the same incidents again."

    He said he did not know if this latest wave of immigrants would trigger further talks about stemming the human tide crashing on Cyprus' shores.

    The Foreign Ministry declined to state what, if any, deal had been hammered out in Lebanon after a boatload of 113 illegal immigrants that set out from Tripoli pitched up in Cyprus in June.

    "It's confidential in nature," Director General Minas Hadjimichael said.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [04] Million pound subsidy to save soccer from bankruptcy

    By Charlie Charalambous

    STRUGGLING local soccer clubs are to benefit from a £1.2 million state subsidy to pay off outstanding debts, at the tax payers expense.

    But the football authorities warn it is only a drop in the ocean and that big spending clubs must tighten their belts if they are to stave off bankruptcy.

    The Finance Ministry has agreed to waive the interest owed on income tax arrears and outstanding VAT in the form of a £1 million plus subsidy.

    But the ministry was reluctant to say where the new-found cash was coming from.

    "It's a government subsidy which comes out of the government's expenditure, " senior ministry official Fani Vassiliou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    As there is no legal process which would allow the government to waive outstanding VAT debts, the "gift" had to come in the form of a subsidy.

    "The government will pay the VAT bill, provided the clubs undertake to pay their taxes on time in the future," said Vassiliou.

    The proposal, backed by Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, was last month taken to the Council of Ministers for approval, which is thought to be a formality.

    Many top flight clubs had been calling for a financial reprieve for some years, warning they would go to the wall because of crippling debts.

    Cyprus Football Association vice president Costas Koutsoukoumis said big clubs like Omonia, Apoel and Apollonas could be the first to go under because they have spent beyond their means in the race to win trophies.

    "Basically, a lot of clubs are crumbling because they can't afford the present level of expenses," Koutsoukoumis told the Mail.

    He said the problem wasn't just the influx of expensive foreign players or transfer fees breaking the £500,000 barrier, but also the rising salaries of Cypriot players.

    "I can see the first clubs to go under will be the big clubs. Three or four years ago, they had budgets of £800,000; now their budgets have doubled, while sources of income have not improved," said Koutsoukoumis.

    Although the Cyprus championship boasts more goals per game than most other European leagues this season, only a handful of clubs like Omonia, Apoel and Ael attract average crowds of over 3,000.

    Understanding that the national game could suffer a serious body blow and that the growing debts are unlikely to be settled, the ministry decided to wipe the slate clean.

    But this was done on the proviso that clubs employed experienced accountants and pledged to submit tax forms, which they had failed to do in the past.

    "We are to trying to encourage the sport and at the same time ensure that clubs start behaving properly," said Vassiliou.

    Most clubs do not have proper financial departments and are not even VAT registered, the CFA official said.

    As a result, the total VAT bill of £900,000 was based on estimated income; the unpaid interest on income tax and the defence levy stands at £225,000.

    Football sources said that clubs had withheld payments in tax arrears hoping the government would give in to their demands.

    In an effort to save Cyprus soccer the CFA is considering putting financial constraints on teams to prevent them over spending.

    "The problem is already acute and one answer is to limit clubs spending too much, but the future is not bright," said Koutsoukoumis.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [05] Maronite held as spy suspect

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A MARONITE man from occupied Kormakitis was arrested at the Ledra Palace checkpoint yesterday on suspicion of spying for the Turks.

    Fifty-three-year-old Avgoustinos Skoullou was arrested at 8.15am yesterday after documents relating to National Guard installations and weapons systems were found in his possession as he prepared to cross to the occupied areas, police said.

    He was later taken to Nicosia district court, where he was remanded in police custody for eight days on suspicion of supplying military secrets to the Turks.

    The court heard that Skoullou had admitted to police that his arrest had come only minutes before he was due to deliver classified military information to a senior Turkish army officer.

    But he apparently told police that he was in fact spying, not for the Turks, but for the National Guard, naming two Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP) officers as his contacts.

    Police found a four-page document in the suspect's vehicle, written in English and referring to National Guard installations in Troodos and Paphos, the court heard.

    Skoullou has apparently confessed to writing the document, police said yesterday.

    The National Guard maintains an important radar system in the Troodos mountains, while the Paphos is the site of a controversial air base.

    A further search of the suspect's car and home uncovered two cameras loaded with film and a pair of binoculars, police said.

    Maronites enjoy free movement between their village in the Turkish occupied areas and the free areas.

    Nicosia CID are continuing their investigation.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [06] Business group might meet again in Athens

    By Jean Christou

    A NEW meeting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen may take place next month in Athens, it was revealed yesterday.

    Representatives from the Greek Cypriot delegation to the Brussels group met President Clerides yesterday to brief him on their contacts at the recent bi-communal businessmen's meeting in Istanbul.

    Constantinos Lordos told journalists after the meeting with Clerides that a new meeting may take place in Athens in February.

    The Istanbul meeting, which was held in mid-December, was chaired by US special emissary Richard Holbrooke, and pledged to push forward already established contacts between businessmen on both sides.

    However Phanos Epiphaniou, who also attended yesterday's meeting with Clerides, told the Cyprus Mail that, since Istanbul, they had been unable to do anything concrete because of the negative stance of the Turkish Cypriot side, which has banned all bi-communal contacts.

    In Istanbul, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen had agreed to try and work together to solve water shortages on the island, to launch projects to have their languages taught in each other's schools, to establish an agreement to have cellular phones work on both sides, and to make efforts to restore historic monuments.

    "We briefed the President on the meeting and gave him the statement we prepared there and where we stand now," Epiphaniou said. "We are not proceeding at the moment due to the restrictions imposed."

    The Nicosia businessman said Clerides fully supported the bi-communal meetings, but had warned the businessmen not to expect too much progress before new efforts on the Cyprus problem bore fruit or before the elections in Turkey in April.

    "He advised us that at the moment there is no prospect for progress," Epiphaniou said. "There has been nothing at all since Istanbul, but we are determined to proceed, irrespective of the difficulties. We believe in these meetings."

    Epiphaniou said progress achieved at the meetings would eventually pay off when rapprochement got under way.

    If the February meeting in Athens goes ahead, it will be the fourth meeting of what is known as the Brussels group since it first met in the Belgian capital in November 1997.

    The meetings are organised with the help of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, with sponsorship from the American and Norwegian governments.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [07] Divorce rates continue to rise

    By Athena Karsera

    THE BAD news for newly weds is that the number of divorces is on the rise in Cyprus, while leap year superstitions, make figures on the marriage rate unreliable for spinning out broader trends.

    A demographic report for 1997 released yesterday by the Department of Statistics and Research showed that about 16 per cent of marriages in Cyprus ended in divorce.

    Although this figure is relatively low compared to European figures, where half of all marriages end in divorce, it represents a sharp rise on earlier figures for Cyprus.

    The proportion of marriages expected to end in divorce in 1997 was 164 out of every 1,000; in 1980, the figure had stood at just 42 per 1,000 marriages.

    Statistics on marriages meanwhile were affected by superstitions against marrying in a leap year.

    In 1997, which succeeded a leap year, the number of marriages rose to 7,187, while the crude marriage rate was calculated at 11 per thousand population.

    A continuing rise in the age of first marriage was also noted. The mean age for men increased from 25.7 in the period 1974 to 1977, reaching 27.9 in the period from 1994 to 1997.

    The figures for women rose from 22.9 to 25.4 over the same periods.

    The population in the free areas was estimated at 657,900 at the end of 1997. This displays an increase of 0.9 per cent over the previous year. The report also estimated that 68.9 per cent of the population now lives in urban areas.

    The birth rate in the free areas has fallen by about 0.7 per cent. In 1997, there were 9,275 births, while in 1996 there had been 9,638.

    Similarly, the total fertility rate, which gives the number of children per woman and is not affected by changes in the age composition of the population, fell to 2 in 1997 from 2.08 in 1996.

    Mortality rates meanwhile continued to fall, with the report showing that the 1997 crude death rate was estimated at 7.9 deaths per thousand population.

    The infant mortality rate for the year was eight infant deaths per thousand live births.

    Women are still likely to outlive men, with life expectancy at birth for males being 75 years, while females can expect to enjoy five years more.

    Life expectancy compares favourably with that of more developed countries, although infant mortality is slightly higher.

    The main causes of death in 1997 were diseases of the circulatory system and diseases of the respiratory system. Figures remained similar to previous years, along with the number of deaths caused by accidents, injuries and poisoning.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [08] Mergers highlight need for monopoly legislation

    By Anthony O. Miller

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday called on Parliament to pass a bill his ministry introduced two years ago to grant him the power to regulate corporate mergers, in the wake of two recent huge mergers in major Cyprus commercial sectors.

    Until the House acts, the government can do nothing to protect consumers from predatory corporate mergers, Rolandis, who also holds the Industry and Tourism briefs, told the Cyprus Mail.

    With mergers the wave of globalised competition's future, and Cyprus, itself, ironically encouraging them locally, House passage of such controls is all the more crucial, he said.

    "Internationally, 1998 was a record year for mergers. We've seen the Daimler-Chrysler merger, the Traveller's-Citicorp merger, and many others," Rolandis said. "So the trend at the moment internationally, is for corporations to merge in order to create more strength."

    But without the requisite regulatory powers, Cyprus remains on the sidelines: "We cannot touch mergers. Companies are free to merge at the moment" as they wish, he said.

    Rolandis cited "two cases which may be taken up in the future under this proposed legislation": the recent mergers of BAT (British-American Tobacco) and Rothmans; and the proposed mergers or combinations of the three main players in the island's petroleum production - Exxon, Mobil and BP.

    He also cited the Popular Bank Group's recent £40-million purchase of a controlling stake in the PanEuropean Insurance Group, giving Popular local insurance sector dominance.

    The Rothmans-BAT merger gives "these two companies... a monopoly of (cigarette) production in Cyprus," Rolandis said. Rothmans has 67 per cent of the local market, and BAT has 20 per cent," for a total of 87 per cent, he said.

    "Case number two is the proposed merger between (US oil giants) Exxon and Mobil. This has not yet been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US. It is pending, but it appears that it will happen," he said.

    "Now Exxon and Mobil in Cyprus have approximately 60 per cent of the (refined oil products) market. And then you have BP, which has a marketing arrangement with Mobil. So the three of them, as far as marketing is concerned, come under one umbrella. And both cases may be considered under this new legislation," he said.

    His ministry's regulatory bill languishing in the House of Representatives is already "harmonised with the (EU) aquis communitaire" and merely awaits House enactment, Rolandis said.

    In light of the BAT-Rothmans, Popular-PanEuropean mergers, and the looming Exxon-Mobile-BP combination, Rolandis hopes "it will be taken up soon (by the House)... because without this legislation, we cannot handle any one of the cases which has, or may arise."

    He said the thrust of both EU law and the pending Cyprus bill is to allow review any potentially anti-competitive, anti-consumer aspects of "a merger of two corporations, which, by merging, control more then 15 per cent of the market."

    The main criterion, he said, is "whether... either the rights of the consumer may be damaged or jeopardised, or public interest affected," by a proposed merger. "If none of the two happen, then they can proceed," he said. "If we feel there is a risk, then we would be entitled to stop (the merger) as far as Cyprus is concerned."

    As things stand, Cyprus' ability to protect consumers and competition consists mainly of the authority to prevent price-fixing within a particular industry or economic sector.

    Meanwhile, Rolandis said, his ministry is working to encourage local mergers "wherever this is appropriate" as there are many small companies, all churning out the same goods or services.

    "We are going to encourage mergers for economies of scale. Then you reach a point where you have to draw a line between the economy of scale and the risk to the consumer," he added.

    What is important now, Rolandis said, is to avoid laying blame for the two years his bill has hung-fire in the House. "What is important now is to have this legislation considered by the House and finish with it. It's not a question of asking why they did not do it for two years."

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [09] Car owners could face tax bill as Customs probe import scam

    Andrew Adamides

    OWNERS of scores of cars imported second hand from Japan could be in for a huge tax bill, after it emerged yesterday that Customs were probing the papers of vehicles believed to have been deliberately undervalued to avoid duty.

    Although the case is still under investigation, a report in yesterday's Alithia suggested that, if duties were found to be owed on any vehicle, the owners would have to pay up.

    The paper claimed that, in some cases, the vehicles had been under-valued on their import papers by thousands of pounds. The evidence being examined by Customs is thought to be based on copies of Japanese price lists and the corresponding figures presented on the cars' arrival in Cyprus, which are significantly lower.

    In addition, it is thought that fake receipts may have been drawn up in order to convince Cyprus Customs officers that the vehicles were actually bought for lower prices than in reality.

    In one specific case, that of a Honda Integra, the original sale price in Japan was the equivalent of £2,600, but the car's value was given as £2, 100. Not only is this £500 lower than the actual cost, but it also fails to take into account shipping and insurance costs, putting the discrepancy at more than £1,000.

    If the investigations come to fruition, it is thought that they could open the floodgates to countless prosecutions for similar scams.

    A senior customs official yesterday confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the cases were under investigation, although as the probe was ongoing, he was unable to reveal any details or the source of the documents.

    He did, however, confirm that a considerable number of vehicles were involved.

    Second hand cars imported from Japan have been selling in huge numbers on the island since they first started arriving several years ago, significantly affecting both the new and used car markets. The cars offer sky-high equipment levels at bargain prices, and even though they may be second-hand, are given new registration numbers when they come to the island, giving the all-important illusion that the vehicle is in fact brand new.

    However, rumours about the falsification of documents on vehicles imported both by dealers and individuals have been rife for a long time, as these can significantly reduce the amount of duty payable.

    The controversial Japanese imports have also stirred up rumours that some are rebuilt write-offs, or factory rejects that didn't pass safety checks.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [10] Explosion kills four on Cyprus ship

    By Jean Christou

    THE MERCHANT Shipping Department (MSD) yesterday defended the standard of a Cyprus-flagged ship on which four Polish sailors were killed in an explosion on Monday.

    Andreas Constantinou, senior surveyor at the Department, said yesterday that the ship, the Athenian Fidelity, had been registered under the Cyprus flag in 1985.

    "It was one of the first new ships in our fleet and remains under the same management and ownership and crewing," he said.

    The Greek-owned Athenian Fidelity was manned by 31 Polish crew members, a number "well above the requirements", he said.

    Five of the crew were killed and three injured in the explosion aboard the tanker on Monday, 100 miles southwest of Puerto Rico as the ship headed from New York to Punta Cardon. It was in ballast at the time.

    Lloyds List said yesterday the five men had been on deck at the time of the explosion.

    The three injured men were airlifted from the vessel by US coastguard helicopter and taken to San Juan Medical centre. Two are in a serious condition, Lloyds said.

    The ship was proceeding to the Dominican Republic, where it will stay at least until Sunday, Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail.

    The MSD had planned to send its experts to New York earlier this week to meet up with the Athenian Fidelity at its next port of call, but Constantinou said this would not now be possible because there had been some difficulty in securing a visa for the Dominican Republic.

    "We have instructed our marine attaché in New York to proceed to Puerto Rico to interview the injured crew members," Constantinou said. "But we are not sure because of their condition whether they will be able to talk."

    Constantinou said there was no indication so far of what might have caused the explosion.

    Lloyds said the vessel had had an intermediate survey in december 1997, had been approved since then by major oil companies Shell, Mobil, and Texaco and has successfully undergone a tank vessel examination by the US coastguard. It has never been detained.

    The accident is the second on a vessel operated by the Greek Intestra company in less than a week.

    Last week, an explosion occurred aboard the Athenian Pride, shortly before it completed a ship-to-ship transfer of crude oil. No one was killed.

    Constantinou said there was no connection between the two explosions aboard sister ships.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [11] British CAA to open regulatory office in Cyprus

    THE BRITISH Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will open a regional Nicosia office to advise the Cypriot authorities on airline safety issues.

    An announcement by the CAA said staff at the Nicosia office would be responsible for assisting the Director of Civil Aviation in the areas of flight operations and airworthiness.

    Staff will also provide expert assistance to other clients in the Middle East.

    This would include ensuring that high safety standards are set and maintained to UK civil aviation standards. The CAA must be satisfied that aircraft are properly designed, manufactured, operated and maintained, that airlines are competent, that flight crews, air traffic controllers and maintenance engineers are fit and competent, that licensed airports are safe to use and that air traffic services and general aviation activities meet required safety standards.

    Speaking from the UK, CAA spokesperson Deborah Seymour said there was a need for an office on the island. She said the move had come at the request of the Cypriot authorities, and that the CAA had deemed it more cost- effective than the regular consultations which were already taking place with the British authority.

    "They came to us," she said. "But we were looking to expand to Cyprus anyway. We have been working with Cyprus for many years".

    Seymour said the main objective would be to work on the airworthiness of Cyprus Airways (CY) and its charter firm Eurocypria, which fall under CAA regulations.

    "We are proud to have taken part in the ongoing process to assist Cyprus achieve an excellent safety record," Seymour said. She added the island's safety record was already high.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [12] Unficyp cuts could cost local jobs

    By Jean Christou

    MORE than 30 local employees at the United Nations in Cyprus (Unficyp) could face redundancy if plans to outsource their services materialise.

    An announcement from Unficyp yesterday said the force was considering the option of outsourcing a number of logistic services, including the preparation of food for the 220 personnel working at the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) at Nicosia Airport. The move follows a cost-cutting directive from the UN General Assembly.

    Cleaning and grounds maintenance services will also be affected, the announcement said.

    It said staff had been fully informed, and their comments were being taken into consideration. They were also being encouraged to form consortiums, which would be free to offer their own tenders if the outsourcing option was decided.

    "There are two important points to remember here. First that outsourcing is simply under consideration; no decision has ben taken yet," said Chief Administrator of Unficyp Clemens Adams.

    "Second, that outsourcing will only be instituted if it results in more efficient and better services. If we find that this is not the case, then the current methods of service delivery will be maintained."

    A union representative from Peo said yesterday they would evaluate the situation. "There has been a steady decline in local civilian employees in the UN, which we consider to be a problem," the representative said, adding that Unficyp did not recognise the unions.

    "In the light of this, we have to find out exactly what is going on."

    Unficyp spokesperson Sarah Russel said everything was still on the table, and that employees would be kept fully informed.

    Friday, January 15, 1999

    [13] Greens appeal for traffic safety outside schools

    THE ECOLOGICAL movement has put forward a series of traffic safety proposals to prevent a repeat of Wednesday's tragic death of a girl run down outside her school.

    Eight-year old Eleni Andronikou was run over just after being dropped off at school in Ayia Varvara village outside Nicosia.

    A press release from the Greens yesterday proposed that each school establish a safety plan, "going beyond the usual, and often unmanned, crossings."

    The Movement suggested adequate pavements in a radius of at least one kilometre around each school.

    A Green representative cited the example of a Nicosia school with extensive pavements, but only for a few metres around it. "To be really successful," he said, "the pavements would have to go on much longer."

    The press release said certain vehicles, such as trucks, should be banned from the roads around schools.

    Organised parking around the schools should be accompanied by controlled pedestrian crossings both over and underground.

    Cyclists should also be better accommodated and the type of construction allowed around schools be better controlled, the press release concluded.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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