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Cyprus

Opposition question what happened to ‘borrowed’ €7.5bn

Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis

Opposition MPs on Tuesday raised the issue of the €7.5bn the state borrowed from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF), accusing the present administration of never intending to pay it back.

“Essentially, the government is withholding the €7.5bn in reserves of the Social Insurance Fund, which has vanished. It’s gone into state coffers, it’s been spent by successive administrations, and the government owes this amount to the fund,” Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis said.

He called for the establishment of an independent body to oversee investments made from the fund’s reserves – although conceding that no one knows what has happened to the €7.5bn and how it was spent.

The government, Perdikis added, is illegally spending, without any accountability, the billions raised from people’s contributions.

“For our part, we shall fight on, because a very serious issue is raised that has to do with the investments from this fund.

“The government is preparing to amend the law so that it can effectively use this €7.5bn, diverting it into the National Investment Fund.”

He was referring to the fund that will be created to manage future hydrocarbons proceeds. A relevant government bill has been tabled to parliament.

Michalis Paraskeva, a Nicosia lawyer and civil activist, called the €7.5bn ‘a ghost number’.

“The €7.5bn is supposedly deposited with the Treasury, earning zero per cent interest. That alone tells you a great deal,” he remarked.

Paraskeva, who had famously refused to pay social security as a form of civil disobedience, heads up a committee called The Initiative for the Social Control and Self-Management of the Social Insurance Fund.

The committee has sent letters to all competent authorities demanding SIF legislation reform so it can be audited.

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