Cyprus Mail

Modernised transport system ‘a priority’

A feasibility report for a Nicosia tram should be completed and published by the end of the year

THOUGH OPERATING on a tight budget, the ministry of communications said on Monday it expects to press ahead with planned infrastructure projects via public-private partnerships.

Presenting to MPs the 2015 budget for the ministry, which he called an “austerity budget”, Communications Minister Marios Demetriades said a dedicated department has been set up to promote collaborations between the public and private sectors.

The 2015 budget comes to €279m, a 1.2 per cent increase on last year’s.

The ministry’s priorities for the period 2015 to 2017, as outlined by Demetriades, include the establishment of a modern and safe transport network and the promotion of sustainable mobility, and promoting the digital economy and developing electronic communications and infrastructures.

Part of the sustainable transportation drive would include the promotion of alternative fuels and electric cars, while a feasibility report for a Nicosia tram should be completed and published by the end of the year.

Demetriades referred to a government decision for the four district offices to offer a one-stop-shop to citizens within the first quarter of 2015.

Quizzed by reporters later, the minister said there was no new development regarding national carrier Cyprus Airways.

The Cyprus Airways board is preparing a new rescue plan but the government has made it clear it will not pour any more funds into the company.

The airline is waiting on an EU decision on whether Cyprus broke state aid rules by subsidising it with around €75 million in previous years. A decision to return the money would effectively spell the end for the company.

A government source said recently that the EU could give a positive response if a strategic investor was found and the company completed a restructuring plan that includes shedding 320 jobs and further cuts in benefits. CY currently employs 560 people.

The House finance committee will on Tuesday be briefed on actions underway for seeking a strategic investor for the ailing company.

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