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Cyprus

Opposition parties vote to ban privatisations until end of 2017

Opposition parties on Thursday passed a bill prohibiting privatisation of state telecoms CyTA and power company EAC until the end of 2017 amid a row with the ruling party.

The bill was passed with 32 votes in favour – AKEL, EDEK, DIKO, Green Party, and  the Citizens Alliance. DISY’s 20 MPs and EVROKO’s one voted against, and DIKO MP Athina Kyriakidou abstained.

DISY chief Averof Neophytou had requested postponement of the vote until June but the rest of the parties insisted on discussing the matter.

And this despite the government withdrawing bills to privatise CyTA and pledging not to denationalise the EAC.

AKEL MP Giorgos Loukaides said his party co-signed the proposal and has sided with the workers, to prevent the pillaging of public wealth.

DIKO MP Angelos Votsis said his party kept its election pledge – that semi-government organisations that have a national role must not be privatised.

He added that passing the law would allow the organisations to modernise and improve.

EDEK said it was not necessarily against denationalisation but the government had to resolve the problems CyTA faced with bureaucracy and nepotism.

If the issue was boosting their competitiveness by bringing in an investor, the party was not against, MP Nicos Nicolaides said.

Ruling DISY spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said CyTA’s net worth dropped by €300m between 2011 and 2015, wondering if that meant anything to the other parties.

Party chief Averof Neophytou pointed out that in 2000, when it was decided to hand over the airports to a private investor, AKEL was protesting and accusing the Glafcos Clerides-DISY administration of a sell-off.

However, when the legislation passed, it was the AKEL officials who accompanied investors to the airport, Neophytou said. The concession agreements for the airports were signed during the tenure of the Tassos Papadopoulos-AKEL coalition government.

Neophytou said CyTA’s pension funds had suffered €400m in losses in the past five years while the organisation incurred a €140m loss from its operations in Greece. Pension funds and loans are guaranteed by the state.

The DISY chief warned that approving the vote jeopardised everything Cyprus built in the past three years simply because of the parliamentary elections.
AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou challenged Neophytou to back what he was saying with evidence and not behave just like a gossiper.

He asked Neophytou to name the AKEL officials who accompanied investors but the DISY chief failed to do so, saying that Kyprianou knew well.

 

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