Cyprus Mail

Disy chief says opposition trying to make bills ‘toothless’

Averof Neophytou at the House Finance Committee (Christos Theodorides)

Ruling Disy chief Averof Neophytou expressed optimism on Saturday that key bills necessary for the stability of the financial sector would be approved by parliament in its special session on Sunday but suggested that the opposition was trying to render certain provisions ‘toothless’ by submitting amendments.

Speaking after a closed-doors session of the House finance committee, which he chaired, Neophytou said amendments were made to the bills but they had reached the point where nothing else could be changed.
The bills include a state guarantee needed for the acquisition of certain parts of the Co-op bank by Hellenic to go through, as well as changes to the foreclosures and insolvency frameworks to make them more effective.

The ineffectiveness of the frameworks has been repeatedly cited by the island’s lenders – the IMF, EU Commission, and ECB – as being a key hindrance in the effort to reduce the high stock of non-performing loans.

“I think that we reached the point where no other change can be accepted,” he said. “Certainly, the democratic and constitutional right of any political group to submit amendments is respected but it is well known that the parties that will table amendments are the same ones, and I respect that, whose political position is that these bills should not even by approved.”

Neophytou said the way for them to proceed is to reject the bills in their entirety if they have the majority rather than to make amendments that will perpetuate ineffectiveness and uncertainty if passed.
Asked if certain parties were trying to render the bills toothless, Neophytou said: “it is a back-door effort to make the bills toothless.”

“But… I repeat my optimism that the bills will pass, the guarantee will pass, and no changes will be made that will put financial stability at risk.”

Diko, which is set to support the government bills, said its amendments improved their effectiveness and at the same time protected those borrowers who really needed it.

MP Angelos Votsis said his party will support amendments that will not change the concept and will be in the direction of what it wanted to achieve.

As expected, main opposition Akel said it would not vote in favour of the state guarantee because the deal would only postpone the problems for later.

It also created a “new banking map that reverted the country to the past when two large banks controlled the economy and any problems they faced were immediately transferred onto the economy.”

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