By Constantinos Psillides
PARLIAMENT kicked off a two day marathon session on Wednesday afternoon, as legislators start the haggling process aimed at approving the €6.62 billion 2014 budget by Thursday evening.
The session began around 4pm, with party leaders due to take the floor in turn to give a speech regarding the proposed budget.
This is the first budget after the bailout agreement with the troika of lenders, the European Central Bank, the International monetary Fund and the European Commision.
The 2014 budget has been cut by 5.5 per cent, compared with the €7.5 billion budget of 2013.
The session was due to commence with a summary of the 157-page report by the House finance committee, followed by a speech by MP Nicos Koutsou of the Citizen’s Alliance. Following Koutsou, a speech will be given by Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis, then MP Giorgos Varnava on behalf of EDEK, Demitris Syllouris of EVROKO, newly elected leader of DIKO Nicolas Papadopoulos, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou and finally DISY chief Averof Neophytou. Today’s session is due to conclude around 8pm and will be broadcast live by CyBC radio and television.
The session will pick up on Thursday morning, with speeches by all 56 MPs and voting will be due to start 7.30pm but normally the process goes on until midnight.
The ruling parties bloc, DISY, DIKO and EVROKO are expected to approve the budget. AKEL and the Citizen’s Alliance are expected to vote against it while EDEK and the Greens are expected to abstain. All parties are expected to propose amendments to the budget.
Besides proposing amendments for debate, the legislators will also decide on earmarking certain funds, a process known as ‘crossing’.
Funds that are ‘crossed’ will undergo further scrutiny before parliament decides whether to release them or not.
Upon presenting the 2014 budget before the House Finance committee in October, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades warned that this would probably be the most difficult year for the Cypriot economy, but it is also the year to correct the ills that led to its collapse.