€-Day – Fictional Facts and Oxymorons

Dear Mum,

I’m acutely embarrassed that the UK is still pursuing its policy of isolationism from the rest of Europe in its refusal to adopt the Euro.

I only mention it because Cyprus will be abandoning pounds and switching to euros from January 1st 2008. It will be inflationary of course. Who ever rounds anything down? But it’s the way forward.

And it’s another small step towards the day when there will be just one currency on planet Earth called the Goofy. Although I suppose by the time we reach that date, the need to carry cash will probably long since have passed.

I’ve heard much speculation and differing opinions from various quarters over the past few weeks about how, why, where and when the Euro will be introduced in Cyprus. Everyone seems certain of their facts, and yet they can’t all be right. So I thought I’d do a bit of research and see if I can come up with some definitive answers.

I found several sites on the internet all explaining everything in simple English.

10 July 2007  –  Abrogation of the derogation for the introduction of the euro on 1 January 2008

What the…?

I know what abrogation means. And I know what derogation means. But I don’t have a clue what ‘abrogation of the derogation’ means. I wonder if whoever wrote it does?

At a guess, I think they’re probably trying to say that from that date onwards the decision was irreversible.

Maybe we’ll skip that one. It’s all in the past anyway.

1 September 2007 to 30 September 2008  –  Period of compulsory dual display of prices in euro and Cyprus pounds

Fairly self-explanatory.

What it doesn’t say is that prior to January 1st 2008, the CYP price must be displayed first, followed by the price in euros. From Jan 1st onwards, the price in euros must be displayed first.

And now you come to mention it  –  yes! Every supermarket now has two price stickers on every item, with the CYP price above the euro price. I hadn’t given any thought to this being compulsory. (Thanks to Sue for pointing that out on This Is Cyprus)

So from January 1st, theoretically, someone’s got to take one of those stickers off every item and replace it in a different position. A nightmare. Hundreds of thousands  –  millions maybe  –  of items to be re-priced. I wonder if it will happen.

1 January 2008  –  Adoption of the euro as legal tender money in Cyprus

Apart from the superfluity of the word ‘money’ in that sentence, you have to wonder at the wisdom of their choice of date.

Ok, someone somewhere decided ‘New Year – New Currency’. But who in their right mind chooses a bank holiday to introduce a new currency? Especially one where most of the population will most likely have a severe hangover. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

So how do they plan to overcome this tiny obstacle?

For the purpose of a smooth changeover from the Cyprus pound to the euro and for the effective transition of computer systems and relevant operations, 31/12/2007 has been declared as a special bank holiday on which banks will not transact business with customers or correspondents, except for accepting cash deposits between 10:00 till 13:00.

Small point. You can’t have ‘between….till…’. Got to be either ‘from…till…’ or ‘between…and…’.

Till is something you do to the soil or bung money in. I’ve never been happy about the word ‘till’ as an abbreviation for ‘until’. I prefer to see an apostrophe replacing the missing letters  –  ‘til. Well, I prefer to see ‘until’ in a formal document, but the Cambridge dictionary says that ‘till’ with an extra ‘l’ and no apostrophe is fine, so from a nitpicking point of pedantry, I’ll have to let that one pass.

Ok. So… The scenario will be… It’s Monday December 31st, New Year’s Eve. We’ve just got Christmas out of the way. We’ve just had a weekend with the banks closed for two days. And the banks will be closed on Tuesday. What better idea than to close them on Monday as well. Close them for four days in a row and introduce a new currency on the final day. Brilliant! What a plan!

At some point of course, all the cash machines have got to be restocked with euros. So how do they intend to go about this?

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are expected to play an important role in the distribution of euro banknotes to the public from 1st January, 2008.

Can’t argue with that. A vital role, I imagine.

ATMs will provide Cyprus pounds to the public until 17:00 on 31st December, 2007.

WHAT!!!!!

I was flabbered and ghasted when I read that. Can it be true?

New Year’s Eve. Monday. Everyone skint after the weekend. Thousands of would-be revellers going out that evening all over Cyprus via cashpoint machines, all of which would have stopped dispensing money at 5pm.

This has the propensity to be a national disaster on a monumental scale. It does for bars and restaurants anyway. Plastic is going to be very busy that night! Because there will undoubtedly be thousands of customers not holding folding.

Afterwards, during the first hour of January 1st, 2008, 70% of each bank’s ATMs, which includes all machines operating at central locations, will dispense only euro banknotes.

Well that’s a relief. As soon as Big Benedykt starts to chime, everyone can dash out and queue in the freezing cold at the nearest ATM.

The remaining 30% of ATMs will be made operational, providing only euro, the latest by noon of January 1st, 2008.

Not much of a bank holiday for some bank employees then!

Businesses will be obliged to give change only in euro after the introduction of the euro on January 1st 2008

New Year’s Eve revellers will still be able to use their CYPs after midnight, but all change given must be in euros.
eurocoins.jpg
Think about it.

At the height of the celebrations on New Year’s Eve, bars and clubs all over Cyprus will suddenly be obliged to accept both CYPs and euros, but only be allowed to give change in euros. Another nightmare! Not going to happen, is it?

The reason that revellers will still be able to use their CYPs is because:

From the day of the introduction of the euro, and for a period of one month, that is from 1/1/2008 until 31/1/2008…

Glad they explained what a month is! Why don’t they pay me to translate this stuff into English for them? All they had to say was ‘During January…’ Two words!

…the Cyprus pound will circulate in parallel with euro and will be accepted for cash transactions. This period is referred to as the parallel circulation period.

I love it! Never thought I’d live to see ‘parallel’ and ‘circular’ used in the same expression. One of the finest oxymorons I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

On 1st January, 2008, which is an official bank holiday, some centrally located branches of banks will open in every district to facilitate the exchange of Cypruseurobanknotes.jpg pounds into euro by the public.

Why? Cyprus pounds can be used for the next 31 days. Why does anyone need to dash out and change them on a bank holiday? And why spoil the bank holiday for bank employees?

Hmmm! Just realised that I’ve shot myself in the foot with that argument after accusing the powers that be of shooting themselves in the foot by launching the euro on a bank holiday. Didn’t know about the parallel circles though when I wrote that.

Anyway, we’ve got six months to change CYPs at any bank, and ten years to change them at the Central Bank Of Cyprus (two years for coins). Ten years is a bit over the top perhaps, but not very important either way in the great scheme of things.

I suppose I shall need a new cheque book. The one which they conned me out of £6 for will probably no longer be valid. Still got 33 of the 50 cheques left. And I’ve no doubt they’ll want another £6. Or €10.251606 rather.

Order immediately your chequebooks in Euro. The chequebooks in Cyprus currency will not be valid after 01/01/2008.

Thought so!

I guess they meant to say ‘after 31/12/2007’. Or change ‘after’ to ‘from’.

And is chequebook one word? It looks strange. I’ve always written it as two. Cambridge dictionary says it’s ok though. I’m beginning to have doubts about them.

In the UK of course you can write a cheque on anything as long as it has the right banking information on it. Sort code, account number etc. I could write a cheque on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bank would be obliged to accept it. They provide cheque books purely for everyone’s convenience.

I wonder if it’s the same here. All I have to do is change the pound sign to a euro and the word pounds to euros, and initial the changes, and Hey Euro!  –  I’ve still got 33 cheques. I shall try it of course, but I’m not hopeful.

The changeover will be a bit of a mental nuisance from my point of view. I’ve spent the past year converting prices to UK pounds in my mind in order to ascertain the value of something, and at £1CY = £1.20UK or thereabouts, it’s pretty easy. So much so that I hardly ever need to do it any more.

So from January 1st I will have to start thinking in terms of £1CY = €1.7086. Or maybe €1 = £0.585274CY. Or €1 = £0.58CY = £ 0.7202UK.

Or maybe I should just forget about CYPs as quickly as possible and go straight to £1UK =  €1.3885. Or €1 = 72p. Trouble is, everything will still be dually priced in euros and CYPs for another nine months, so it will be difficult to avoid it.

I shall end this Letter with:

Also, on 31/12/2007, customers who have already given their orders, will be frontloaded with Euro Bank notes and coins.

I’ve absolutely no idea what it means but I don’t like the sound of it.

Still, it’s probably marginally less painful than being backloaded!

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Please don’t rely on the accuracy of anything written in this Letter. The likelihood is that it all changes by the minute. What was correct today will probably be wrong tomorrow. I’ve already spoken to one shopkeeper this morning who told me that his bank has told him that everything I’ve quoted as happening on the 31st will happen on the 28th. So who knows!

And I’ve also just been to a bakery which had a few items with dual pricing stickers, but the wrong way round. Couldn’t help pointing out to them the error of their ways. They just looked at me as if I was mad. And who can blame them!

 

©MPB 10/December/2007

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9 Responses to €-Day – Fictional Facts and Oxymorons

  1. Sue says:

    Brilliant post. I’m glad you did all the research, it saves me having to do it 🙂

    We got our euro/CYP calculator today. Such excitement. I’m sure we’ll be up all night playing with it.

  2. Alan Peake says:

    I’m arriving Larnaca from South Africa/Athens on 21/12 20h30 with Euros/US$. Do I change for CYP at the airport? Will banks/bureaux de change be open before 27/12? Do the taxis or any other traders take Euros yet or only from 1/1/08? Love your blog (and Sue’s).

  3. Priapus says:

    Thanks for that comment, Sue.

    Still waiting for my calculator. Well, in truth, I haven’t been waiting because I didn’t know they were issuing them. And I wouldn’t have missed not having one. But now I know – I want one!

  4. Priapus says:

    Alan.

    To the best of my knowledge no-one is yet accepting Euros, and they won’t be until Jan 1st.

    As far as I know, the banks will be all be closed from 22/12 to 26/12, but I’m sure that there will be B de Cs open on the 22nd. Having said that, this is Cyprus, and you can never take anything for granted. I’ll make a few enquiries and get back to you in a couple of days.

  5. Priapus says:

    Went to the Western Union kiosk in the main street this morning, which is open 7 days a week. It was closed! Sign in the window in Greek which I think says it’s closed down. I had high hopes for that one!

    i’m told that branches of the Cooperative Bank will be open on Saturday morning, There’s one not too far from where I live so I’ll pop up there on Monday and see if it’s true.

    Other than that, there are a few sidestreet, independently owned bureaux which may or may not be open. Not much point in asking them because they could change their minds on a whim. Too unreliable.

    On balance, the airport looks your safest bet at the moment, unless you’re staying in an hotel, in which case I’m sure they’ll be able to change whatever you want.

  6. Alan Peake says:

    Am leaving SA today for five days in Crete before coming to Cyprus, where my wife and I are staying in the Livadhiotis City Hotel from 21 to 24 December so I’ll try Athens airport as well as Larnaca airport. If not successful I’m sure someone at the hotel will have a relative who knows someone who…..!
    Thanks for your trouble, come have a beer with us if you’re free!

  7. Peedoff says:

    Whatever you do, DO NOT attempt to write a cheque by simply crossing out the pound references and replacing them with Euro.

    Whilst yes, you are quite right and said Archbishop of Canterbury could well indeed offer his services as a cheque book but, after all this is Cyprus, they WILL NOT accept a cheque that you had dared change what the holy bank may have already pre-printed on it.

    I made the mistake of attemping this recently and, even though I pointed out that written mistakes in a cheque are simply crossed out and signed with the new correction written, as far as they were concerned “The bank has printed the pound sign so it cannot be crossed out”.

    I kid you not.

  8. Priapus says:

    Thanks for the warning!

    I must admit I haven’t needed to try it yet. After I wrote this letter I did read somewhere that the Bank Of Cyprus wouldn’t be honouring cheques that people had altered. But I also read that they would honour cheques written before January 1st 2008, and that they would be valid for six months. So I guess the answer is simply to backdate cheques to December 2007.

  9. Denise says:

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    me, keep up posting these types of posts.

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