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AKEL considers new privatisation funds vote as Larnaca port deadlock looms

Transport Minister Marios Demetriades

Transport Minister Marios Demetriades warned on Monday that the parliament’s decision to cut funds for consultancy services for privatisations may affect the long-awaited development of the Larnaca port.

Akel, which flatly rejects privatisation and fully supported last Wednesday’s parliamentary vote to cut €1.4m in funds earmarked for the purchase of consultancy services, hinted on Monday it may now reconsider.

An invitation for an expression of interest in developing Larnaca port was published on November 23.

“But following the rejection of the related funds by a majority in parliament, there is a chance that the whole procedure will have to be revised,” Demetriades told reporters in Nicosia on Monday following a cabinet meeting. “For how can we go ahead with this project if there are no funds to pay consultants?”

In March, Demetriades said that the government decided to go ahead with the commercialisation of the Larnaca port after a previous attempt to do so failed. The decision came weeks after the town’s municipal council decided to effectively ban hydrocarbon companies from using the port, forcing them to seek a basis elsewhere.

“We are talking about a very important project for Larnaca which has been in the pipeline for years,” he said, adding that last Wednesday’s vote may create doubts among investors on whether the procedure will ultimately go ahead.

Akel’s spokesman said that the parliament’s decision does not affect plans for the port as no funds were earmarked for the preparation of studies on the development of the Larnaca port.

“The opposition did not cut the funds in question,” Stefanos Stefanou who is also a member of the parliament, was quoted as saying in dialogos.com.cy, a pro-Akel website on Monday. “(It) cut funds earmarked for privatisations,” included in the budget of the finance ministry’s privatisations unit.
But another Akel deputy, the Larnaca-based Giorgos Georgiou, signalled that the party may be willing to review its decision to cut the funds. He said that his party was ready, when the parliament meets for its first session on January 13 next year to approve the funds, provided the government submits another proposal.

As parliament has no right to increase spending on its own initiative, the ball remains in the government’s court, he told the Akel news-site.

 

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