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Hospitality industry says state ‘mocked and ridiculed’ them during pandemic

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People working in the entertainment and hospitality industries on Tuesday said the government failed to support them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the House commerce committee, representatives of the Pancyprian association of entertainment centres (Pasyked) said they had been neglected.

Pasyked president Nikos Vasiliou said entertainment centres are currently owed around €2.5 million in state support, of which between 30 and 40 per cent consists of employees’ unpaid salaries and the rest meant to cover expenses to keep businesses afloat during the hard months of the pandemic.

“The industry has irretrievably lost around €20 million so far and what we are asking is nothing more than what we were promised by the finance ministry when state support measures were announced,” Vasiliou said.

Furthermore, he told the committee that of the 62 weeks in which businesses belonging to Pasyked were closed, they were left without compensation for 32 and only €617,000 worth of state support was dispensed.

“Many businesses are already on their knees,” he said. “One of our members even went to jail for three months because he could not pay social security for his employees in 2021 due to zero income. The state has mocked and ridiculed us.”

Representatives of the finance ministry who participated in the committee said that companies that met the criteria necessary to receive state support have already been compensated and that cases in which businesses that did not yet receive the promised support are currently being examined.

Committee chairman Disy MP Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis said that Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides will take part in the next session to address Pasyked’s complaints.

Speaking after the meeting, Akel MP Costas Costa spoke of a cry of despair from the sector, which has been irreparably affected by the pandemic.

“Owners of entertainment centres are still waiting for the promised financial support owed to them by the state,” he said.

“What is worse, is that the finance ministry never consulted with them, nor agreed on further support after it became clear the sector needed it.”

Dipa MP Michalis Yakoumi called on the government not only to start compensating people in the entertainment and hospitality sector, but also to come up with a better plan that would seek to solve the issues in their entirety.

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