By Stefanos Evripidou
THE troika of international lenders return to the island next week for a fifth review of the country’s economic adjustment programme.
As the country marks the 40th anniversary of the Greek-backed coup on July 15, opening the door to the Turkish invasion, the troika officials will begin their next evaluation of the bailout programme, with the timing of the visit unlikely to go unnoticed.
Representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund will arrive on Monday, starting their review the next day meeting with Cypriot officials.
According to Cyprus News Agency sources, the head of the troika delegation will meet with Finance minister Harris Georgiades.
The rising level of non-performing loans (NPLs) is expected to top the agenda, with the latest figures released by the Central Bank of Cyprus showing that NPLs reached 45 per cent of total loans, representing €27.1bn of a total €60bn.
The troika’s visit ends on July 22, after which the head of the delegation is due to discuss the updated memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the finance minister.
Cyprus has been in recession since the second quarter of 2011. Following the €10bn bailout programme agreed with the troika in March 2013, Cyprus has had four positive programme reviews, while restrictions on financial transactions have been gradually eased.
DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos is currently trying to rally support from across the political spectrum to negotiate changes to the troika memorandum.
On Papadopoulos’ initiative, the DIKO leader yesterday met with EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris to drum up support to renegotiate the memorandum.
The two party leaders agreed to engage in a structured dialogue on that and other issues.
Speaking after the meeting, Papadopoulos said the aim was to build national consensus to renegotiate “wrong provisions of the memorandum that must be changed”.
Asked to clarify which provisions he wanted changed, Papadopoulos refused to be drawn into specifics, saying he did not want to pre-empt his contacts with other parties on the issue.
The DIKO leader was confident that changes could be made, noting that the government has already changed provisions in the memorandum involving the national health scheme, banking system and energy, while parliament changed provisions in the privatisations bill.
“Therefore, there are examples in the past that show this goal is attainable, as long as we decide together and pursue it. We can improve things,” said Papadopoulos.
Last month, he met with AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou to discuss the prospect of collaborating in an “anti-memorandum front”, as well as working together at a parliamentary level.
On February 4, after a meeting with the employers and industrialists’ federation OEV, Papadopoulos had said: “The quickest path to free ourselves from the memorandum is to implement it and the quickest way to get rid of the troika is to win the trust of the markets and our European partners.
“Our decisions must be implemented and our commitments met,” he had said.
By Stefanos Evripidou