State-owned asset management company Kedipes announced on Thursday the launch of a new voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in order to reduce the number of its employees, which the company considers excessively high.

The scheme will see the departure of at least 60 members of staff.

“The VRS comes into force on March 17, 2022, and expires on March 24, 2022, and is valid on the same terms as the corresponding scheme announced in 2021,” Kedipes said in a statement.

According to the terms of the scheme, the maximum amount of tax-free compensation is limited to €180,000 while the minimum amount is €35,000, with the compensation amount hinging on each employee’s years of service, age and earnings.

Moreover, staff members who agree to the scheme, on top of the financial compensation, will continue to receive life insurance benefits equal to 60 monthly gross salaries, as well as participation in the company’s health fund and welfare fund for an additional period of 24 months after leaving or until they find another job or reach the age of 65.

The tax department has already approved the tax-free compensation offered in the scheme.

“According to a recent study, the goal is the departure of 60 people as the company is currently staffed with 360 employees, a number which is considered excessive in relation to its workload,” Kedipes explained.

The war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions imposed against Russia will have adverse effects for Cyprus, since the country depends on foreign business activity and investments, Deloitte Cyprus CEO and Deloitte Middle East executive board member Pieris Markou said in an interview with Cypriot outlet InBusiness on Thursday.

“It is important for Cyprus to create an attractive, business-friendly environment in order to attract companies from every country,” Markou stated, noting that it is safe to assume that business activity from Russian and Ukrainian organisations will contract.

“All industry professionals are closely following developments in order to take action to mitigate the effects and keep the sector on the growth trajectory it was in last year, despite the pandemic,” he added.

Markou also explained that it will take some time to see how these restrictions will work in various sectors of the economy, as well as the counter-sanctions imposed by Russia in retaliation.

The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) ended Thursday, March 17 with losses.

The main Cyprus Stock Market Index was at 65.62 points at 12:49 during the day, reflecting a drop of 0.17 per cent over the previous day of trading.

The FTSE / CySE 20 Index was at 39.41 points, which represents an increase of 1.52 per cent.

The total value of transactions came up to €13,764.

In terms of the sub-indexes, the main index fell by 0.54 per cent, while the alternative index rose by 0.27 per cent. The investment firm and hotel indexes remained stable.

The biggest investment interest was attracted by the Vassilico Cement Works (+0.75 per cent), the Bank of Cyprus (no change), the Cyprus Cement Company (+0.97 per cent), Logicom (+1.09 per cent) and Hellenic Bank (-2.76 per cent).