New proposals to address growing crisis

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias yesterday gathered his ministers to discuss the increasingly worrying state of the construction and tourism industries.

Although the government last November earmarked €52million to pump into the two sectors, those within the industries have said it would not be enough. There has been no sign of the global crisis abating, and unemployment queues are growing, particularly with laid-off hotel and building workers.

After yesterday’s 90-minute meeting at the Presidential Palace, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said an extraordinary cabinet meeting would convene next Tuesday to address the issues. Any decisions would be announced immediately afterwards, he said.

“During the meeting new proposals and suggestions were put forward regarding additional measures. These proposals and measures, which take into account proposals and suggestions made by political parties, social partners and other authorities involved, with which the government has been talking to all this time, will be discussed next Tuesday,” Stefanou said.

The measures will be designed to help the banking sector as well as the construction and tourism industries, he said.

Stefanou said a few problems and obstacles had been pinpointed and were discussed yesterday. This also included ways in which to overcome them.

He said the aim was to speed up the implementation of large and small projects and to try to and forego bureaucratic red tape as much as possible.

Reports said the government was planning to encourage a lot of small construction projects in communities and municipalities in the Paphos and Famagusta districts. It is hoping large businesses will not try to block the process with appeals regarding the time consuming tender process. The idea behind this is to create more jobs to help boost the unemployment rate in the construction industry. And the quicker the projects are implemented the faster the economy benefits.

Although he was unwilling to give specific details ahead of next week’s meeting, Stefanou made it clear that boosting the economy was a collective effort and the government would take into account the input of everyone involved in recent discussions.

The spokesman also hinted that the Cabinet would also be addressing the issue of the banks’ liquidity.

Yesterday’s meeting was chaired by Christofias, and attended by the Undersecretary to the President Titos Christofides, the Ministers of Interior, Labour and Communications and their permanent secretaries, and the permanent secretary of the Commerce Minister.