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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Friday, January 24, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Tobacco companies lash out at price rise claims
  • [02] Clerides clarifies 'my friend Rauf' comment
  • [03] 'We will chase up every last cent'
  • [04] Investigation into treatment of 'problem child'

  • [01] Tobacco companies lash out at price rise claims

    By Sofia Kannas

    CYPRUS' TWO largest tobacco distributors yesterday denied allegations that they capitalised on prior knowledge of an increase in cigarette excise duties.

    A report in Politis newspaper alleged that CTC Argosy and British and American Tobacco (BAT) had been leaked information by a government source regarding an increase in cigarette duties before the changes were announced by the government on December 19 last year.

    Marcos Kyprianou, Finance and Budget Committee Chairman told the Cyprus Mail that a few days before December 19, a letter was sent to the companies containing a reference to an increase in cigarette duty.

    "I was surprised that the excise duty increase was put down in writing in a letter three days in advance of the changes being announced," he said. "This is the first time this has happened and the letter, which contained other information, was not circulated as normal because of this."

    "The letter was sent to me as chairman but none of the MPs got a copy due to the information contained.

    "I don't think anyone in Parliament or the Committee could have known about it. But people at the Finance Ministry may have known," he added.

    Marianna Ikonomou, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director of BAT, the biggest distributor in Cyprus, said BAT was angered by the allegations in the Greek language newspaper.

    "The accusation in Politis is that the removal of additional stocks was done in anticipation of the increased excise, as warned by corrupt ministry employees - and that as a result the company benefited from windfall profits. This is totally untrue.

    "We didn't have any advance knowledge passed onto us. The first we knew of the increase was when customs locked our warehouses.

    "It's true that we did withdraw more stock before the duty increase was announced, but this was due to Christmas demand. All this stock went to Paphos and then the warehouse was locked.

    "The reason we moved extra cigarettes was purely to meet consumer demand during the holidays. We had to move enough stock to cover the holidays on December 25, 26, 27 as well as New Year. It's the same at Easter time."

    "Had Politis done more careful research. they would have realised that the week before the Christmas holidays we move additional stocks to cover the Christmas holiday demand . stocks are maintained in accordance with the demand in the market."

    "BAT is an international company; it has internal and external auditors to check its books. Any significant discrepancies would be noted," she added.

    A spokesperson at CTC Argosy also expressed frustration at the allegations.

    "Our staff were not working on December 25, which was a Wednesday, nor on New Year's day, which was also a Wednesday, so we had to load enough cigarettes to cover almost two weeks.

    "On the morning of December 19, our bonded warehouse was sealed by customs and we realised that a change must have been announced.

    "But it was only on the evening of December 19 - after the official announcement was made - that we altered our prices accordingly, not before."

    "Anyway, as a publicly listed company we have to respect the laws. We don't get inside information and historically we never know when the government will propose changes in taxation on consumer products."

    Telecoms and oil stocks top Maurer's acquis checklist

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] Clerides clarifies 'my friend Rauf' comment

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT GLAFCOS Clerides said yesterday that remarks he made to Turkish Cypriot newspaper Hurriyet could not be construed as support for Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Clerides said he wanted to clear up speculation surrounding the interview, which drew criticism from his political opponents.

    The President was quoted in Hurriyet as saying that the talks could be derailed if "my friend Rauf" Denktash resigns. But Clerides said he merely meant that it would not be proper in the middle of negotiations to change the team of negotiators.

    Clerides is engaged in direct talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to try and reach a Cyprus settlement based on the plan submitted by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan by February 28.

    Hurriyet had reported that President Clerides said he preferred Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to remain as negotiator but he said yesterday that this did not indicate that he supported the Turkish Cypriot leader.

    ''As Denktash remains the negotiator, I have no right to say that he has to leave'', the President said. ''You cannot sit and negotiate with a person and tell him that you do not want him, this is common sense''.

    Clerides said that if the negotiating team changed: ''instead of moving forward, the Cyprus problem, will be going backwards'', because the new negotiator may have different views and ''we will start all over again''.

    But he said if the Turkish side decided to change its negotiator, the Greek Cypriot side would accept it.

    Commenting on an interview Denktash also gave to Hurriyet, Clerides said the Turkish Cypriot leader would have made a grave mistake if he had said that he did not wish to negotiate with Glafcos Clerides. "Denktash cannot say who will be the Greek Cypriot side's negotiator," he said.

    Denktash reportedly told Hurriyet that he did not want to negotiate with DIKO president and presidential candidate Tassos Papadopoulos but said it was not up to Denktash.

    Turkish Cypriot press yesterday quoted Denktash as saying he would also prefer to negotiate with Clerides. "The main opponent of Clerides is an extremist EOKA-ist. He is the lawyer who in south Cyprus laundered Slobodan Milosevic's money," Denktash said. "Americans are mobilised to preclude his election. In my opinion if Papadopoulos is elected the solution avenues will be closed altogether."

    The two leaders are due to continue their negotiations on the Annan plan today.

    Telecoms and oil stocks top Maurer's acquis checklist

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] 'We will chase up every last cent'

    Scam over as EAC leaves cheats in the dark

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE CYPRUS Electricity Authority (EAC) yesterday made good on their promise to clamp down on those caught tampering with meters by cutting the electricity supply of people with outstanding fines. Several lawsuits are also in the pipeline for non-remitters.

    EAC spokesperson Costas Gavrielides yesterday revealed that a total of 2.8 million is still owed to the authority. The fraud came to light last year when major discrepancies were discovered in the bills of certain customers.

    "We believe that we have done a great job in bringing these cases of meter tampering to the attention of the Attorney-general's office.

    "It was a huge task, there were 160 separate meters which were tampered with, but we managed to collect all the evidence needed.

    "But it's the Attorney-general's job to prosecute those stealing electricity, we are not a law court," he added.

    Gavrielides was anxious to stress that that the EAC has been very fair to those customers whose meters were tampered with and who owed the company money.

    "Five months ago we started calling these customers up giving them every chance to explain why their bills were much lower than usual. Our investigations were based on historic data, and were therefore very fair.

    "In 43 cases arrangements have been made for payments to be made to us, the customers have agreed. We are now in negotiation over 46 other cases.

    "But there are still a significant number who owe us money and who refuse to answer letters and calls from EAC managers.

    "Those who ignore us should know that the EAC is committed to doing all that is legally possible to ensure we get what is owed us. We will not let anyone off the hook - we will chase up every last cent.

    "As a company we owe this to the rest of our customers who are loyal and honest," he added.

    Former EAC employee Michalis Masouras has already been convicted of defrauding the EAC, after it was proved he tampered with 119 electricity meters.

    Customers who have not paid the EAC for stolen electricity and have ignored company reminders sent to them will have their electricity cut off and will also be sued for the amount owed.

    "We have already cut off four customers in Larnaca and Limassol who did not pay what was owed us within the time stipulated.

    "This process will continue - next Monday we plan to disconnect others, and so on. And then they will be taken to the civil court."

    Gavrielides stressed that the case should not be considered a scandal.

    "We don't feel it's a scandal. We are the victims and unlike most other scandals we have succeeded in bringing to justice one of the prime culprits, Michalis Masouras. And we will chase up the others. It's not a scandal, it's a simple case of theft."

    Telecoms and oil stocks top Maurer's acquis checklist

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Investigation into treatment of 'problem child'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE OMBUDSWOMAN Iliana Nicolaou yesterday announced an independent investigation into actions concerning the treatment of a disruptive Nicosia elementary school pupil.

    Meanwhile parents at the Palouriotissa B Primary School said they would give the Education Ministry more time to help the 11-year-old before taking further action.

    The investigation was called "following the recent publications about a primary school student and the problems his behaviour has caused, as well as the reaction of the school's parents association," said Nicolaou.

    On Tuesday, the school's parents were instructed to keep their children away from school after the Ministry failed to take steps to help a severely troubled 11-year-old boy they claimed was unsettling the class.

    The school's parents association pleaded with the Ministry to give the boy emotional and psychological support. They said he expressed behaviour that was "violent, obscene and a danger to other children's safety". They claim they were ignored until they took matters into their own hands.

    On Wednesday, the association called a general meeting inviting all parents to discuss what measures needed to be taken to deal with the situation.

    "We decided that we would give the Education Ministry more time to implement certain measures they promised us," said the association chairman George Theodoulou.

    These measures included an escort to be with the child during school hours, keeping him out of class during certain times, allowing him to go home early and to ensure that his favourite school teacher returned to take care of him.

    "The most important measure we want implemented is the return of his teacher. The little boy became very attached to this woman, who was substituting for the class' usual teacher. When she became a full-time teacher, instead of the Ministry appointing her to this school, they transferred her elsewhere."

    Theodoulou said the change had completely unsettled the youngster and had been made despite educational psychologists' advice to the contrary.

    "She was transferred a few days ago to another school, without regard for the attachment and love he developed for her," he said. "Psychologists said the move would be detrimental to the boy's well-being and yet it was made anyway." He said this was because the teacher was an exceptional educator and had been moved to please a certain senior government official whose grandson was at the other primary school.

    "Today (yesterday) he erupted over news that his teacher might not be returning and proceeded to hit fellow students with a broomstick, smashed the classroom windows and picked up shards of glass with which he threatened other children," said Theodoulou.

    "We do not want to alienate the boy. On the contrary, we want to protect him and to ensure the Ministry takes responsibility for his treatment and other psychologically troubled children like him."

    Telecoms and oil stocks top Maurer's acquis checklist

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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