By Stefanos Evripidou
THE FINANCES of the Kofinou slaughterhouse are in such a “miserable” state that it cannot even pay its energy bills, said Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos yesterday.
Asked if the slaughterhouse was going to close, he said: “It has reached such a miserable economic state that it cannot even pay for its electricity, resulting in the EAC (electricity authority) threatening- within its rights- to cut it off.”
Speaking after a cabinet session, he added: “We will try to ensure it does not get cut off, but the slaughterhouse should have closed down many years ago.”
In terms of numbers, Hasikos said its finances were in a much worse situation than national carrier Cyprus Airways.
The government would look at measures that could be taken regarding staff and use of property owned by the slaughterhouse worth millions of euros.
He warned that the finance ministry could not be seen to be strengthening or creating a monopoly.
“On the contrary, the handling (of the situation) has to be done within a framework which eventually benefits the Cypriot taxpayer, not strengthens monopolies, as some claim.”
Responding to the observation that the slaughterhouse is still in operation, the minister said it is operating at a loss of around €3.5m a year while its debts are in the region of €35m-€36m, most of which is owed to the state in unpaid VAT.
“The government needs to manage this, the interior ministry in cooperation with the finance ministry, both with regards to payment of debts and what we are going to do about the staff.”
The aim is for it not to close down, but to find a legal way to keep it open, either through renting it out or some other way, he added.
“There is interest, we have proposals but we’re not satisfied with them,” said Hasikos.
Almost immediately after the minister’s statements, left-wing union PEO released a statement warning the minister not to take unilateral decisions, adding under no circumstances would it accept the victimisation of workers.
Should the government decide to lay off workers and rent the slaughterhouse out to the private sector, the union demanded the government provide compensation to those who wish to retire based on previous practice in such circumstances, and for the remainder of workers, find them jobs either in the government or local authorities.