Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Politicians declare war on NPLs

Junior gave some interesting reasons this week for his trouncing at the presidential elections

EVERYONE at our establishment was wondering last week whether secret agents, acting on the orders of a foreign country, had sprayed all our party leaders with some non-toxic, slow-acting, mind-altering gas that inhibits activity in the part of the brain that sends out signals for populist behaviour.

It might seem implausible, but how else could you explain Thursday’s meeting at the presidential palace at which the party leaders declared war on NPLs (non-performing loans) and unanimously agreed on tougher measures to tackle a problem that is putting the future of the banks at risk.

Had they suddenly forgotten about the single mother of three, the unemployed father, the underpaid bakery employee, the struggling labourer and their hard-up families who were in danger of having their houses repossessed by the banks and being thrown out on the streets? How could they switch allegiances overnight and side with the greedy banks?

For the last five years, these same leaders and their parties have done everything they could to prevent foreclosures in order to protect house owners that could not repay their bank loans. After delaying as much as possible, they passed the foreclosures law under pressure from the Troika, and then passed a law preventing its implementation. As for the original law, it was designed to be ineffective, a case of a non-performing law for non-performing loans, drafted by the non-performing brains.


THERE was eventually a rational explanation for the 180-degree turn and it had nothing to do with the party leaders being sprayed by anti-populist gas. The EU’s new Banking Union had issued directives for reducing the NPLs and our party leaders decided to make the existing laws more effective so that the much tougher European measures are not imposed.

The idea is to show that Kyproulla can drastically reduce its NPLs without resorting to the European directives, which Junior informed us, allowed banks to repossess houses without going through the courts – a process that could delay the repo by four or five years.

This is probably how long it will take for an action plan to be finalised by the government and parties as there will be committees, consultations with stakeholders and a search for consensus. Our aversion to suffocating time-frames is well-known.


AFTER Thursday’s meeting, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said a technical committee, made up of technocrats from the political parties, finance ministry, Central Bank and other institutions, would study all proposals in depth.

In a few days, said PP, the finance ministry would submit a framework that would include the initial planning, alternative solutions proposed by the government and the proposals of the political forces. A second meeting at technocratic level would follow, while at the same time the technical committee will take “into account the views of other groups of society that are involved or have an interest in the matter”.

The other groups that would be consulted included the banks, the association for the protection of borrowers, and the movement against foreclosures. The government was after the biggest possible consensus, said PP, who stressed the decisions “must help the system and the borrowers”.

Even when the objective is to facilitate foreclosures in order to reduce NPLs the government and the politicians claim they will help borrowers. “The aim is to have the most beneficial solutions for the public interest, the banking system and the borrowers,” said PP. Only in a country with ultra-smart politicians would it be possible to reduce NPLs and protect borrowers not repaying their loans at the same time.


MEANWHILE, the movement against foreclosures was demonstrating outside the palace during the meeting and one of its spokesmen said that it would “continue the struggle for the protection of the right to housing so that no working person and no citizen of Cyprus will find themselves on the streets as a result of foreclosures and evictions.”

And the solution for the movement, which reported that a bank was about to evict a single mother with three children, is to establish a state agency to help families at risk of losing their house. Of course the taxpayer would have to pay for this. After all, borrowers have to be protected.

This may sound a bit harsh, but why does everyone, including those that cannot afford to pay their housing loans have to own a house funded by the taxpayer? The last time I checked owning a house was not a right. And why is it assumed that if you lose your house you will be living on the street? Has renting been made illegal?


AFTER the pictures of the Russian-Greek oligarch and football club chairman Ivan Savvides, on a football pitch during a match, with a pistol strapped to his belt, were published all over the word, Akelites began asking who had invited him to Prez Nik’s swearing-in ceremony.

Savvides had been photographed at the ceremony sitting next to the AG Costas Clerides and some papers reported at the time that the archbishop had arranged an invitation as he was allegedly trying to flog him the church’s struggling station TVOne.

This was misinformation it transpired this week when concerned Akelites demanded an explanation about Savvides’ presence at the swearing-in for which there was strict protocol regarding the invitations. After he was pictured with a gun in his belt the puritanical comrades decided he should not have been at Nik’s bash.

To be fair, when the invitation was given nobody in Kyproulla knew that Savvides liked to invade football pitches when he disapproved of a refereeing decision with a gun his belt, accompanied by four bodyguards.


THE INVITATION was arranged by the presidential palace, according to PP, after it had received a request from Savvides who was in Kyproulla on private business. The archbishop, meanwhile, denied he had arranged the invitation and that he was in talks to sell TVOne.

It was sad that Akel tried to make a big issue out of Savvides’ presence said PP, adding that “there was no political message” and he was there as a “celebrity” guest. Of course there was no political message. Nik likes to be on good terms with mega-wealthy Russians because one day they may need the legal services of a Cyprus-based law firm.

In the case of Savvides, there was another reason for the Prez to arrange an invitation – he is reportedly a bosom buddy of the president of Mother Russia.


SPEAKING of Mother Russia, it is not just our senior attorney Eleni Loizidou who acts like a loyal employee of the Putin state. The CyBC’s correspondent in Moscow, Demetris Liatsos, seems to act like the spokesman of the Russian foreign ministry, if his dispatch for Thursday’s TV news is anything to go by.

One local journalist, was so surprised by Liatsos’ report on the UK-Russia feud regarding the poisoning of the Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, she sent a tweet referring to the Rik as the Russian Broadcasting Corporation.

To be fair, the guy only reported what foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had said, but the way he presented it, it was obvious whose side he was on. Rik’s report from London about the row lasted one minute and 20 seconds, while Liatsos’ report was more than twice as long, as he had to convey everything Lavrov said.


JUNIOR, the avenger, appeared on a TV show this week and spoke about the failure of his candidacy in the presidential elections. He gave two main reasons.

He was undermined from within his own party by Dikheads that wanted him to fail and second, there was tactical voting from Nik’s camp which was aimed at boosting the vote for Stavros Malas and keeping Nikolas 2018 out of the second round.

Both were valid reasons, but it seems Junior’s advisors did not inform him about third, possible reason for his failure – that he was an arrogant, self-regarding, unlikeable candidate whom the overwhelming majority of the people did not want for president even if he was going to double pensions, compensate bank bondholders and restore the middle classes.


WE will be hearing and seeing a lot more about our new foreign minister’s activities than we ever did about those of his predecessor, Ioannis Kasoulides. Nicos Christodoulides was on a visit to Rome on Thursday for the UNRWA conference, on the sidelines of which he met the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for 15 minutes.

Tass news agency, filed 11 reports on Thursday about our very own Dalai Lama’s activities in Rome, five of which were about his meeting with Guterres. The other six were about his contacts with other foreign ministers and his meeting with ENI’s executive vice president, Lapo Pistelli, who reaffirmed the company’s commitment to honour all its contractual drilling obligations, according to an announcement. The Dalai Lama has barely been in the job for two weeks and he is already recording big victories.

Apart from the stories, pictures were also sent of the Dalai’s meetings. We had thought he may have taken a selfie with Guterres but in the picture that he tweeted and was posted on all websites, both his hands are on the table, raising the question of who was taking the photos as he had not taken a photographer with him.

I wouldn’t call it friendly advice, but the Dalai might want to keep a lower profile because if Prez Nik feels his foreign minister is hogging the limelight at his expense, he could replace him.


ODYSSEAS’ mouthpiece, Phil, yesterday reported the latest row its hero has started. It is a Michaelides versus Michaelides spat with Odysseas attacking the perm sec of the transport ministry Alecos for allegedly sanctioning the overpayment of the bus companies.

You could not tell from the newspaper’s story whether he was in the right because his organ only published excerpts from a letter the holier than thou Odysseas had sent to Alecos on March 16 (as soon as he sent it he gave it to Phil to publish) responding to the latter’s correspondence of two days’ earlier.

The self-righteous and infallible auditor-general, according to his organ, accused the perm sec of distorting facts. He wrote: “Consequently, even if you could, under other circumstances, claim that the facts you experienced you cannot remember well, as an excuse for you distorting the facts, unfortunately such a claim can no longer be made and this does not honour you.”

When Odysseas declares someone a distorter of facts, we do not have to be told what the guilty man actually said because Odysseas’ word is gospel.


I REALLY wanted to write a few things about the Chirokitia sheep shagger, who generated more abusive comments on social media than a paedophile, but I have run out of space and time. I will cover the topic extensively next week because I believe the animal lover was badly treated with not one person acknowledging that he may have had feelings for the sheep he became intimate with.

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