Growth re­sumes on eve of bailout exit

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

“We now want to con­tinue with an equally am­bi­tious pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion re­form”, he said, adding that “pri­vati­sa­tion and con­ces­sions also re­main high on our agenda.”

Con­di­tional to the bailout funds was that Cyprus needed to raise some EUR 1.4 bln from pri­vati­sa­tions or from de­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion, to lower the bur­den on the tax­payer and make the econ­omy more com­pet­i­tive.

So far, the govern­ment has con­cluded the work to is­sue a casino li­cense, is in the fi­nal process of ne­go­ti­at­ing with bid­ders who will take over man­age­ment of Li­mas­sol port, is about to ‘un­bun­dle’ the state-con­trolled Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity (EAC) with a view o cre­at­ing two sep­a­rate en­ti­ties, and plans to pri­va­tise the state-owned telco Cyta. All of th­ese have seen a bumpy ride as the govern­ment de­layed the pri­vati­sa­tion process and is now fac­ing vo­cif­er­ous op­po­si­tion from political par­ties and trade unions, lead­ing up to the May par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

Ge­or­giades also would be tack­ling bu­reau­cracy.

Re­fer­ring to the bank­ing sec­tor he said that it has been com­pletely re­vamped and is now “much smaller and health­ier.”

He ac­knowl­edged the high lev­els of non said the ad­min­is­tra­tion the prob­lem of un­due per­form­ing loans, point­ing out how­ever that they are one of the left­overs of the cri­sis and what we need is time and ef­fort to see them come down.

Re­ply­ing to MEP ques­tions, Ge­or­giades stressed that Cyprus is def­i­nitely not a tax haven since it has a cor­po­rate tax rate of 12.5%.

Re­fer­ring to the ef­fort to re­unite the is­land, di­vided since the Turk­ish in­va­sion of 1974, un­der a fed­eral roof, he said that with re­uni­fi­ca­tion all rules of EU gov­er­nance, banks su­per­vi­sion should ap­ply with­out ex­cep­tion.

Asked about the prospects of rev­enues from nat­u­ral gas dis­cov­ered in the Cyprus ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zones (EEZ) ad­ja­cent to Is­raeli and Egyp­tian wa­ters, he noted that Cyprus chose not to take into con­sid­er­a­tion such even­tual in­come so that it can achieve its goals with­out count­ing on fu­ture in­come. Any such rev­enues will have to be man­aged keep­ing in mind fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, he noted.

The first off­shore gas­field, Aphrodite, within the Block 12 con­ces­sion op­er­ated by US-based Noble En­ergy, BG and Is­rael’s Delek and Avner, has es­ti­mated re­serves of about 3 tril­lion cu­bit feet, a tenth of what was dis­cov­ered by ENI in the Egyp­tian gas­field Zohr in late-2015, and is ex­pected to come on stream by 2019-2010.

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