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Cyprus

Former finance minister accuses government of ‘cannibalistic attitude to economic policy

Kikis Kazamias

Remarks by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades on Saturday with regard to the previous government’s role in the country’s financial meltdown drew a critical response from former Finance Minister Kikis Kazamias.

Commenting on the successful completion of Cyprus’ economic adjustment programme progress review on Friday, Georgiades told state radio that the positive review was the result of consolidation of public spending without new measures, while expediting economic recovery and growth at the same time.

The government is now focusing on battling high unemployment, he added.

“In this context, we are promoting new projects that will create jobs,” he said.

Unemployment, Georgiades argued, rose under the previous government, which also imposed heavy taxation.

“In contrast, this government is addressing these issues and has already conceded targeted tax-breaks,” he added.

But Georgiades’ “heavy taxation” remarks were not left unanswered by former President Demetris Christofias’ short-lived finance minister Kazamias – the second of three appointed by Christofias over five years, serving a mere seven months in office before departing citing medical reasons.

“During my time as finance minister I tabled two taxation packages, which were voted in parliament unanimously,” Kazamias said.

He added that then-opposition – and today’s government – had adopted a “cannibalistic” attitude to the government’s economic policy.

Today, Kazamias argued, serious and responsible efforts need to be made in order to effectively address economic challenges.

In response, Georgiades recalled that then-main opposition party Democratic Rally voted in favour of passing the tax packages only after the government had asked for their voting within 48 hours, “in order to avoid a default”.

“Essentially, we voted for the two packages with a gun to our head,” he said.

“My hope is that this opposition will exhibit similar responsibility in creating the right circumstances for economic recovery,” he added.

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