Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Taking personal responsibility is a criminal offence in a country of victims

AGRICULTURE minister and Eurocock Nicos Kouyialis had no doubt in his mind that the Newcastle Disease virus that has hit poultry in the last couple of weeks, forcing the authorities to put down almost 200,000 infected chickens, came from the occupied areas, the breeding ground of all animal diseases and mosquitoes.

Kokkinotrimithia, where affected poultry farms were situated, is right next to the infected occupied areas. His patriotic, scientific theory suffered a bit of a blow on Tuesday though when infected chicken were found in a coop in Prodromi village near Polis in the Paphos district, which is not very close to the pseudo-state.

Prodromi is still only about 40km away, if you drew a straight line on the map, reportedly, countered the Eurocock minister. And birds do not use the roads, which would have taken them much longer to get to the village from the north; nor was the Troodos mountain range that is between them an obstacle.

Kouyialis subsequently turned a bit more scientific, conceding that the disease was carried by birds but no infected wild birds have been found. In the event that infected birds are found how would we establish that they are Turkish or at least residents of the occupied north?

The same scientific test that was used to establish the ethnic identity of fish being brought in from the north would be implemented. It proved very effective as it stopped the import of Turkish fish, posing as Turkish Cypriot.

THERE is method to the patriotic madness of the Eurocock minister. He hopes that by persuading his fellow EU agriculture ministers, whom he will meet in Brussels a week tomorrow, that the disease came from the occupied areas, they would agree to pick up the tab for the damage.

So far, the bill for compensating poultry farmers is estimated to be in the region of 700 grand, an amount that could rise. Needless to say, the government has no such cash to spare and it would be a great help if the EU settled the bill, which it would regard as peanuts.

If Kouyialis persuades the EU that the disease came from the north he would be killing two birds with one stone – not only would he be saving 700 grand we do not have he would also be boosting our anti-occupation sentiments.

In the event that no infected Turkish bird is found to take to Brussels to prove our case there is an alternative way for Kouyialis to persuade his fellow ministers that the source of the disease was the north. In Greek, Newcastle Disease is known as ‘pseudo-panoli’ (pseudo-plague) which is conclusive proof the virus could only have come from the region’s only pseudo-state.

STUPIDITY is also contagious, but we cannot safely say that it came from the pseudo-state because there is nothing pseudo about the stupidity we are witnessing in the free areas of Kyproulla.

This week, the colossal stupidity of forcing the Bank of Cyprus to hire all Laiki’s employees back in March was brought home as the bank’s board and union ETYK rowed about the voluntary retirement scheme that would reduce the workforce by at least 1,000. The bank currently employs 5,300 workers, 2,500 of whom came from Laiki.

It is still not clear who took the insane decision to add 2,500 workers to the payroll of a struggling bank that had to bail in its depositors to stay afloat, but I cannot believe it was imposed by the troika as some sources have been claiming. The idea was so momentously irrational it could only have been thought up by members of our ruling elite.

There was a very easy and rational solution. When Laiki went into administration, its workers would have been paid two months’ salaries in compensation, as was stipulated in their contracts, and sent home. This is what happens in countries not run by idiots when a company goes bust.

ADVERTISING our superior intelligence, we decided to transfer them to the struggling BoC where they would have been paid four months’ salaries until the end of July and be given a much bigger compensation package to leave.

Instead of two months’ salaries as compensation, Laiki staff would now receive a month’s salary for every two years of service plus another five salaries. Twenty years’ service would give them 15 salaries.

The scheme plus the salaries it has been paying Laiki staff would cost the bank in excess of €100 million it does not have.

This, to get rid of 1,000 workers it should never have employed; and before the end of the year, another thousand workers would have to go, at a cost of another €100 million.

The BoC depositors, thanks to this scheme, are being made to pay huge compensation packages to the employees of a bankrupt bank. In any other country this would have been considered fraud or theft, but in Kyproulla it is a scam for a good cause.

ONLY ONE man could have thought of this scam. The scheming, bullying ETYK boss Loizos Hadjicostis. Back in March, when the resolution of Laiki was approved by the legislature, Hadjicostis was declaring that his union would not allow a single bank job to be lost and we were all laughing at him.

He obviously had a plan and had no trouble implementing it. Prez Nik, if he were half the man we thought he was before being elected, would have vetoed the ETYK boss’ idea for Laiki staff to be hired by the BoC. But with Laiki workers on the streets protesting, Nik agreed to Hadjicostis’ mad plan, seeing it as clever way of calming the revolting bank employees.

After all, he would not pay the cost out of his pocket.

The approval of Professor Panicos was also needed. As Governor, he was calling all the shots. And being a closet Akelite there was no way he would have said no to a union boss looking after the interests of the workers. Hadjicostis’ scam would push the BoC closer to collapse and if Panicos was interested in saving the banking sector he would have rejected it, but this was not his priority.

SPEAKING of stupidity and banking, I have to mention the new organisation set up to defend the interests of bank customers, or something to that effect. One of the leaders of this group spoke on a radio show last week protesting about bank interest rates and the pressure customers were under to make loan repayments every month. Many customers had loans that were so big they could not repay them he complained. And this was the fault of the banks as they should never have given such big loans, he insisted. Taking personal responsibility is a criminal offence in a country of victims.

INVESTIGATIONS to establish how one million euro ended up in the Greek bank account of a company owned by daughter of the former Governor of the Central Bank Ttooulis Ttoouli, aka Mother Teresa, are continuing.

The money was transferred a few months after Ttooulis stepped down as Governor by a close associate of Laiki chief Vgenopoulos. However we hear that the police are conducting their investigation in a rather unorthodox way.

They have still not called in Ttooulis or his daughter Athena for questioning, preferring to question others first. Normally, the people at the centre of the allegations are the first to be questioned and not the last. Perhaps, as a show of respect to Ttooulis for his many years of selfless service to the public, the AG ordered the cops to do things differently.

THE RECESSION appears to have affected our once thriving television stations. Things are so bad that none of them had paid for their annual broadcasting licence. Fed up of waiting for payment of the €55,000 licence fee, the Cyprus Radio-Television Authority gave an ultimatum to the TV bosses.

Stations had until noon on Monday July 1 to pay, or they would be taken off air. The Authority has the power to do this. All stations paid on Monday. The Church-owned Mega made its payment just 15 minutes before the deadline, an indication of the severe cash shortages facing the Church.

Its paymaster, the once mega-wealthy Kykkos monastery is having trouble paying staff wages every month now that there are no buyers for its overpriced building plots.

FOR THREE successive days a female CyBC radio presenter referred to the president of the ECB as Mario Ndrangi. Where she found the extra ‘Ns’ remains a mystery, although a couple had been seen walking aimlessly in the corporation’s cafeteria last Tuesday and there is speculation that she took pity on them and decided to adopt them. CyBC management, presumably, not wanting to hurt her feelings, did not ask her to drop the extra ‘Ns’, so ‘Ndrangi’ became the official pronunciation, creating the impression that the president of ECB was an African.

PREZ NIK’S meeting with Ndrangi on Wednesday sparked the traditional playground-level bickering by our kiddie politicians, with AKEL commies accusing the government of not achieving the objective of changing the terms of the memorandum. I have no intention of boring you with the government’s response. The only thing worth reporting about this pathetically predictable and lame row was the sexed-up headline given to the story by Simerini on its front page on Friday. ‘Political clash of megatons over the meeting in Frankfurt,’ it claimed in what could only be described as an exaggeration of megatons.

SEXED UP headlines aimed at drawing the attention of disinterested periptero customers are also becoming a feature of our leading daily Phil, which reported ‘Shock-instructions for loans’ on its front page on Tuesday. According to the ‘shock-instructions’ of the Central Bank, “from now on all loans, regardless of the collateral, would be considered non-performing if they are not serviced.” Shock-instructions indeed, considering this way of defining NPLs was one of the first diktats of the troika when its technocrats first arrived on our sun-kissed shores a year ago.

THE NEXT day paper’s main headline reported ‘Plan of war at bank’ in reference to ETYK’s rejection of the BoC’s voluntary retirement plan. If there is a war it would be the first in world history to be sparked by a voluntary retirement scheme and the first-ever featuring an army made up of bank employees. A pity the board’s army can no longer rely on the services of disgraced CEO Andreas Eliades, who was a trained lokadjis (army commando) as he never tired of telling interviewers.

THE MISINFORMATION campaign that usually precedes hostilities was started by warrior leader of ETYK Loizos Hadjicostis, another ex-lokadjis, who said that the board of the BoC was considering giving bonuses to its senior executives. This was also reported on the front page of Phil. It was a complete lie, but in a war situation of megatons everything is permitted to raise the morale and strengthen the fighting spirit of the troops.


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