Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Coffeeshop: Wanted: Witch doctors to help magic away NPLs

Looks as if our Eurovision star Eleni Foureira could not get out of the presidential palace fast enough after she visited Prez Nik recently. He was probably admiring the white summer boots she was wearing that day

THESE wretched NPLs will just not go away, no matter how hard our omniscient parties try to tell us that they are not a problem and that our society’s priority must be to protect people not repaying their housing loans. As a result, the NPLs remain perilously high with the danger of the banks requiring re-capitalisation re-appearing on the horizon.

The finance ministry is terrified of this prospect and is proposing amendments to the foreclosures law, which was made toothless by our parties before they eventually approved it in 2014, in the hope it would speed up the repossessions procedures and significantly reduce NPLs by the time the banks undergo the so-called stress test.

Representatives of the parties were invited to the finance ministry for an explanation of the amendments and were also told of the disastrous consequences for the economy of not approving them. The ministry and Central Bank technocrats, failed to scare the clueless politicians, all of whom criticised the government proposals as “one-sided” on leaving the meeting.

The consensus was that the proposals presented by the government were not comprehensive. Akel’s economic expert (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one), Haris Polykarpou, complained, “once again we have a one-dimensional approach,” and added: “They are seeking, in essence, to facilitate the procedure of foreclosures and give more tools to the banks so they are able to embark on express procedures for foreclosures.”

What did he expect? The multi-dimensional approach of snail-paced foreclosures, safeguarding the right not to repay your loan, imposed by the parties, inexplicably, failed to reduce NPLs so another formula is needed.

 

ON THE DAY the briefing was taking place at the ministry the Executive Board of the IMF issued a report about Kyproulla’s economy praising the high rate of growth, the fall in unemployment and the fiscal surplus. It did however warn that the economy was being put at risk by the failure to tackle NPLs and castigated the “political and social acceptance of strategic default.”

For the last few years, we have been urged, ad nauseam, to reduce NPLs by the IMF, the World Bank, the ECB, the European Commission and by a host of respected economists, because failure to do so would put the economy in danger of another meltdown. Everyone ignored these warnings, including our government, which had first-hand experience of the extent of the problem, as the owner of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank.

The government chose not to deal with it because it might have had a negative impact on Prez Nik’s re-election drive. The total cost to the taxpayer, of keeping the CCB afloat, because of its inability to reduce its NPLs, was €4.3 billion, so far. With elections out of the way, the government has now decided to deal with the NPL problem, but it is doubtful the parties will play ball.

The big question is whose advice should we follow? That of highly-qualified economists and business analysts of the IMF, the ECB and the Commission or the clueless, populist incompetents of the political parties, with a proven track record in economic mismanagement?

 

SOMEONE that was seriously ill would seek the medical advice of a consultant. If he was told he had to undergo painful treatment including several operations to be saved he would most probably follow the advice. He could also have visited some medical charlatan and been told that he could return to good health without any hardship – just take a herbal formula three times a day.

He could have chosen to follow the charlatan’s remedy, because it did not involve any suffering and end up dead in a few weeks. We are faced with the same dilemma, regarding our economy. We could follow the advice of the experts of the IMF and the ECB or choose the no-pain remedy proposed by our economic witch-doctors, that believe the NPL problem can disappear with magic spells rather than foreclosures.

 

FORMER Akel deputy and football coach Andreas Mouskallis, who fancies himself as a bit of an economics expert, wrote an article in Politis in which he agreed with the view of the ECB and other institutions that there was an unacceptably high number of NPLs. But it was the 2013 haircut that exacerbated the problem, he wrote and explained what he meant.

“For the NPLs these (European) institutions, the protagonists of the haircut, bear huge responsibility. All these cold executioners of the EU and their local satellites should be feared by society, which must not facilitate their unlawful plans. It should uncover them and point a finger at them. Spit on them…”

Mouskallis was president of the Pancyprian Cooperative Confederation and often waxed lyrical about the “human face of the co-op banks.” He was vehemently opposed to the co-op banks coming under the supervision of the Central Bank, as it would have ended their successful business model of not seeking repayment of loans.

The European institutions were clearly to blame for co-op customers never repaying their loans so we will follow Mouskallis’ advice and spit on them. Who knows, this might be the magic formula of our witch doctors for reducing NPLs without the need for foreclosures.

 

OUR NATIONAL guardian Dr Eleni Theocharous, tweeted that the Ukrainian government had placed her on a stop-list, because she had visited Crimea. According to Dr Eleni other Cypriot politicians were also on the Ukraine stop list for visiting the Ukrainian territory seized and annexed by Mother Russia; they were comrade Andros and the super-principled Yiorkos Lillikas.

The brave doctor saw this as an opportunity for some patriotic posturing. “The Cyprus Republic is legitimised to prohibit the ‘visits’ to the so-called ‘TRNC’ of every official,” she concluded in her tweet. We look forward to seeing our authorities stopping ambassadors and foreign dignitaries visiting the pseudo-state, or, even better not letting them back in to the Republic once they have gone to the so-called ‘TRNC’.

You have to admire the double standards of bash-patriots like Dr Eleni and Lillikas, who are constantly demanding putting Turkey in the dock, but have no qualms about visiting the Ukrainian territory that has not only been invaded and occupied but illegally annexed by Russia.

 

SPEAKING of double standards, you have to give an honourable mention that Cold War relic, the Pancyprian Peace Council that is still going 30 years after the collapse of its paymaster the Soviet Union. Today, this former tool of Soviet propaganda is organising a Pancyprian Peace March to the British Base of Akrotiri, to call for an end to “imperialist interventions in many countries of our region.”

The British Bases were used as staging post for many of these interventions, said the council and also demanded their abolition. The council, which is an Akel satellite, like the commies, appears to have transferred its loyalty to Mother Russia. It has never held a demo outside the Russian embassy to protest against Russia’s invasions of Georgia and the Ukraine or its imperialist intervention in Syria, where it is helping President Assad slaughter his people, in order to safeguard its base in Syria.

The Yanks and Brits are guilty of causing death and destruction in countries of our region, but the Russians have not exactly been promoting peace and harmony. Someone should inform the Pancyprian Peace Council about this.

 

AMBASSADOR Stanislav Osadchiy asked to meet the President of the House Demetris Syllouris, to convey the discontent of the Russian government over the House’s unanimous resolution urging the Russian Federation not to build a nuclear power station in Akkuyu in Turkey. He repeated Russian assurance that the station posed no dangers. Syllouris was not convinced, given that station would be just 90km from Kyproulla’s coast.

Despite his government’s discontent, governor Osadchiy was in generous mood on his country’s national day, offering to help Prez Nik on the Cyprob. “We are always ready to help Cyprus. And now we want to help, as long as your president tells us specifically what he wants and how we would help him within the framework of the UN Security Council or directly in the negotiations,” he told our Tass news agency.

Now that the Cyprob is dead and Nik does not want a settlement, Mother Russia is by our side, “ready to help, to push the ideas that you support.”

 

THE ARCHBISHOP has finally managed to get rid of TV One, which was losing the Church about a million euro a year. The station, which came into being in the early ‘90s as Logos and then became Mega has been taken over by former interior minister Socratis Hasikos, who only last month was forced to sell Alpha TV to the Alpha Mega group.

The Alpha sale was arranged behind Hasikos’ back by his Greek partner and presented as a done deal. There was another group of suitors for TV One led by Russian Greek multi-millionaire Ivan Savvides who was partnered by the new chairman of the Cyprus Football Federation Girogos Koumas and Phil owner Nicos Pattichis.

Hasikos used his friendly terms with Chrys to seal the deal. He will be paying the Church 400 grand a year and have complete control of the station.

 

THERE was a good turnout for last Sunday’s Pride Parade. Interestingly, the government was represented by a female minister, transport minister, Vassiliki Anastasiadou. Could this have been because no male ministers was keen on attending the Pride Parade, despite the government’s commitment to tackling discrimination and homophobia? I also have a question for the organisers. One of the participants held a placard that said “Make UCY gay again.” Was this referring to the University of Cyprus and if so when was it gay?

 

AKEL’S loudest deputy Erini Charalambidou has gone quiet recently, but on Monday she found another cause to campaign for – protecting National Guardsmen from dust. Charalambidou was critical of the defence ministry for its failure to protect soldiers from the high levels of dust. “At army camps soldiers were carrying out guard duties without masks that the state should have provided,” on a day with high levels of dust, she said in a question directed to the ministry. You can’t help wondering how our soldiers will fare on the battlefield if they cannot cope with a little dust without masks.


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