By Peter Stevenson
THE closure of the loss-making Kofinou slaughterhouse in the Larnaca district should not affect the supply of meat and could even create competition among the remaining slaughterhouses possibly bringing prices down according to the acting head of the Veterinary Services.
Andreas Papaefstathiou told the Cyprus Mail that four private slaughterhouses, three in Nicosia and one in Paphos, would now be competing to take on Kofinou’s business.
The largest current private slaughterhouse on the island is owned by Cypra Ltd and is situated near Mitsero in the Nicosia district. It is larger than Kofinou and is more than capable itself alone of handling the extra load that would be created by the closure.
“Kofinou had been hardly operating in recent months so bearing in mind there is a slaughterhouse which is bigger – Kofinou was once the only operating slaughterhouse on the island – and three others then it is safe to say there will not be any problem with overloading them or supply. If anything it could increase competition and possibly bring prices down,” Papaefstathiou said.
Kofinou shut its doors on Wednesday after bleeding millions of euros over the years and failing to keep up with its debt and tax obligations.
The board of the slaughterhouse, the country’s biggest abattoir, officially announced they were closing shop on Wednesday.
According to the slaughterhouse’s director Stavros Yerolatsitis, a host of bad decisions over the years have finally led to the decision to shut down operations.
“I do not want to blame previous directors or point to specific mistakes from the past but a number of bad decisions and persistent mismanagement have led to the current situation,” he said.
The director said that the closure should not affect the supply of meat. Asked whether there was any chance that the board’s decision could be reversed by the interior ministry, Yerolatsitis said that the board’s decision was final and would not be reversed.
“We have been waiting for three years from the European Commission to approve a restructuring plan that could have saved the slaughterhouse but we have not received any replies so sadly this is the end,” he said.
Interior Minister, Socrates Hasikos said the slaughterhouse was no longer able to function financially.
“It is well known that it is impossible for the Kofinou slaughterhouse to keep on running because of the constant and very serious operating deficits, which have accumulated over the years,” the minister said.
The decision, effective immediately, came after the government promised to “make arrangements” for the slaughterhouse’s staff, the board said but did not clarify what those were. But the unions representing the 56 workers had previously asked that the employees be either paid compensation or transferred to other government posts, a common practice in Cyprus.
The workers went on strike in October when they heard the facility was to shut down. They said they had not been paid for two months. Over the years, the slaughterhouse’s staff had been on a number of strikes over their wages or compensation packages with the abattoir losing some €3.5 million in the past year. Efforts to rationalise expenses by making staff redundant and discussions of restructuring plans failed.
The land on which the slaughterhouse stands was granted by the state free of charge in 1995.