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Cyprus

Committee close to an agreement on privatisations

Finance Minister Harris Georghiades

By Constantinos Psillides

THE FINANCE ministry will amend the proposed plan to privatise semi-governmental organisations to include suggestions made by the House finance committee, said Finance Minister Harris Georgiades on Monday, stressing that accepting the plan is the only way forward.

The committee was to discuss the privatisation plan on Monday but the meeting was interrupted by rowdy protesters outside the House.

The committee will re-convene this morning to continue discussion so that it can reach a majority consensus ahead of a House plenum vote due on Thursday.

The plan aims at the privatisation of telecommunications company CyTA, electricity authority EAC and the Ports authority.

The amended plan tries to pacify workers’ concerns over their financial future, by adding a clause saying that privatisation of each public company will only go through after a negotiation with a joint committee takes place. The committee consists of the finance minister, at least three other ministers as well as representatives from the workers union of the SGO in question.

Governing party DISY is expected to throw its full support behind the proposed plan. Coalition party DIKO, who up to now were supporting the privatisation plan in spite of heavy criticism within the party, is also expected to support the plan but recent developments may disturb the fragile alliance. DIKO executive office decided on Friday to dissolve the coalition, due to disagreement with the way President Nicos Anastasiades is handling the Cyprus problem.

DISY, with its 20 MPs, DIKO with 9 MPs and EVROKO with 1 MP have the majority needed (30-26) to make sure the plan will be voted by the plenum. The rest of the parliament parties, AKEL (19), EDEK (5), Citizen’s Alliance (1) and the Green Party (1) all publicly declared that they will be voting against the proposed plan.

Speaking after the end of Monday’s meeting, committee chairman and leader of DIKO Nicolas Papadopoulos expressed his satisfaction that the finance minister will amend the privatisation plan based on the suggestions made by the committee.

Attorney General Costas Clerides was supposed to appear before the committee to provide with expert opinion on whether the proposed plan violates constitutional law, but the protests prevented him from attending.

Privatising the SGOs is a commitment made by the government to the troika of lenders (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, European Union).

The troika’s latest review was very favourable for Cyprus but noted that the privatisations still weren’t decided, stressing that this is an essential part of the agreement. Troika technocrats included in their report that steps towards privatisations were to be taken before the next Eurogroup was in session, which is next week.

 


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