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Cyprus

State fends off criticism of tough budget

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos defends the governments 2014 budget

INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday rejected opposition criticism that the government had gone too far with spending cuts in 2014.

Hasikos said it was an exaggeration to say that development spending was nonexistent.

“This spending has simply been reduced,” Hasikos said.

He added that his ministry had cut development spending by 11 per cent.

“The reason is none other that the savings all the ministries were asked to make … in a bid to respond to the obligations we have towards the lenders,” he said. “I will not say who led us down this path.”

The government has announced spending cuts worth €626 million for 2014, prompting main opposition AKEL to accuse it of going to far,

AKEL, whose administration applied for financial assistance in 2012, charged that the government went even further than the provisions of a bailout deal, which called for €270 million in cuts.

“Unfortunately, it is more important for the government to create a safety cushion instead of channelling money to development and reducing unemployment,” AKEL MP Stavros Evagorou said.

Evagorou said the cuts in development spending were around 20 per cent while deep reductions were imposed on social allowances.

“The government is once more opting to blindly follow the well-known neoliberal philosophy,” Evagorou said. “It is clearly a recipe for prolonged recession, rapid rise in unemployment, and worsening the social imbalances.”

Evagorou added that the party reserved its right to comment when the full details of the budget were obtained.

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