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CYPRUS may not get any monetary assistance from the EU for the damage to its power station caused by a munitions blast last year because the disaster was mainly the responsibility of the administration, it has emerged.

A top government official said they have no official information on the matter.

Cyprus had applied for monetary assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund for direct and indirect damage caused by the July 11 naval base blast that killed 13 people and incapacitated the island’s main power station at Vassilikos.

Daily Politis reported that the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy has recommended “not to mobilise the Solidarity Fund for the application” because “the disaster referred to in the application from Cyprus cannot be considered to be meeting the criteria.”

The Solidarity Fund kicks in mainly in cases of major natural disasters with serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy of a member state.

A memo published by the newspaper said two former ministers – defence and foreign affairs – and six army and fire service officers have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the catastrophe.

And an independent inquiry concluded that the facts leading to the explosion and the resulting major disaster entailed serious responsibility attributable to government officials and officers at various levels including the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

“While the conclusions of this investigation are legally not binding they confirm a high degree of responsibility of the Cypriot administration for the disaster,” it said.

Giorgos Georgiou, general director of the Planning Bureau, which filed the application, said the report was news to them.

“We had no information from the European Commission. It is something we are looking into,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

Georgiou said more information will be sought in the coming days and he would also raise the issue with Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn during a meeting later this month.

In its application, filed last September, Cyprus did not specify an amount but it detailed the cost of the damage to the infrastructure and that of restoring adequate supply of power.

Direct damage was estimated between €300 million and €700 million while indirect damage exceeded €100 million.

Reports suggested that the estimates were later cut to under €350 million. It is understood that this happened after crews managed to access the interior of the plant and got a better look at the equipment.

Source: Cyprus-Mail

By George Psyllides

Published on February 12, 2012

 

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