By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd – Real Estate Valuers & Estate Agents
We wonder whether there are people in this country who are trying to destroy Cyprus’ ailing economy just as it starts to recover. To this we must consider the dangerous path that this government is following with various handouts and increases for the public servants.
We wonder by what logic some people insist that shops should be closed at weekends.
According to the labour ministry extension of shop working hours to include the weekend secured 7.000 people jobs, be it at a low income of €500 per month (two days a week). These same people are now unemployed leaving the rest of us, through our taxes and contributions, to cover their unemployment pay. We are shocked by a worker protesting outside the House, stating that her €500 income could not cover her rent and living expenses. Some of our MPs who get a good salary, plus other income, philosophise on the subject claiming that €500 income per month (weekends) is low and thus these jobs should be scrapped. We say yes, but it is €500 more than what they were receiving so far (as opposed to their minimum wage unemployment benefit of €330 p.m.).
The argument that the objectors offer to the extension of working hours is dangerous and touches on the overall economic climate. If we are to take for example cruise ship visitors (nowadays not many) and other tourists, will they find the shops closed on weekends? Will Nicosia’s old city, Limassol’s castle area, the Paphos port, Larnaca old town, which are now thriving after years of efforts for their revival, be closed down? Perhaps not only shops, malls, etc but restaurants and even offices should not be allowed to work over weekends! Similarly perhaps the Ayia Napa tourist shop areas should also close down. Are we serious?
Sunday supermarket shopping is convenient and is shown by the number of visitors who shop over the weekends.
The target should be only what is best for the consumers. So, because it is obvious that the small shops may not be able to compete with the extended hours, shall we fire from their work the newly employed 7.000 unemployed people just for the 200 or so small shop keepers employing one to two persons? A list of names with IDs and places of their employment has been provided by the government to the House, but some of the members just do not want to know.
Foreigners who are used to shopping in their own countries at all hours will find this development negative and will include putting off would-be property buyers and investors.
Initially we looked at the malls with skepticism, but seeing now how many young families spend hours there in a safe and controlled environment, it is clear that it is the shopping of the future. So we must decide that small shop keepers have no positive future, unless they specialise in a certain type of business against which larger units cannot compete. On the one hand we try to project Cyprus as an international (ex) financial centre and on the other hand we place commercial restrictions which existed 40 years ago when circumstances were different.
We really cannot attain recovery and employment, because a sector of people, who because of their own interest, have no qualms about damaging the retail trade. Although we can understand the Communist Party’s stand on the subject, we can excuse it, because it is their philosophy. But what about the others?
The more one attempts to understand certain decisions taken by the House the more disappointed one gets – so it is not strange why 50 per cent of the local population do not trust politicians and don’t turn up to vote, raising in this way their objection and the low standard of MPs quality.
A great shame, but most of all a great crime against the unemployed and a dangerous small politics game.