Cyprus Mail

Thrashing out new economic plan

President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday convened a late meeting with business groups and the ministers of finance and labour, as the government considers its next moves in tackling the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

Businesses are waiting for the government to announce measures to support them after a scheme for state-backed borrowing had been pulled by the finance minister following a two-month back and forth with opposition parties whose amendments made it unenforceable.

Earlier Monday, government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said the administration was processing the details of a new plan, which is expected to be presented to the president by Tuesday.

It would then be tabled before the cabinet for approval.

The new plan is expected to include direct funding for small businesses and the self-employed.

Kousios noted that it would not be of the extent of the initial plan, which provided for €2bn in state-guaranteed loans to businesses.

That plan was submitted about two months ago, but opposition parties insisted on making changes.

The government accepted a list of 15 important amendments to the initial scheme. Included was the reduction of the guarantees to €1.5bn while parties wanted to reduce it by an additional €500m.

Just before the bill went to the plenum, opposition parties filed 22 more amendments, which could have rendered it incompatible with EU regulations and perhaps unconstitutional, according to the government.

Among others, Diko insisted on having Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides as an observer in the loan granting process. The auditor himself argued that being an observer was within his remit.

That was something the government did not want as the auditor would become part of the decision-making.

“He is an external auditor. When he becomes part of the decisions then his role weakens,” the minister said.


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