News Column

Cyprus Aid May Reach 17.5 Billion Euros

Nov. 22, 2012

Cyprus may require as much as 17.5 billion euros (22.5 billion dollars) in bailout aid to support its troubled banking sector, Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly said Thursday.

The figure is more than three times the total that had been floated previously.

Cyprus is "very close" to signing a bailout agreement with its international lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Mediterranean island, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency until the end of the year, said in June it would seek a bailout to prop up its banking sector - which is heavily exposed to Greece - and cover its public debt.

Cypriot authorities had initially said the island needed about 5 billion euros (6.4 billion dollars) to recapitalize its banks. But Cyprus' finance minister now estimates that amount to reach 17.5 billion euros, depending on the exact amount the banks will need to recover.

Shiarly said approximately 10 billion euros would be required to recapitalise the banks, 6 billion to refinance the country's debt, and a further 1.5 billion to cover fiscal deficits over the bailout's four-year implementation period up to and including 2016.

The finance minister submitted the 2013 budget to parliament, which he said contains cuts already approved by international lenders.

"We are very close to signing the memorandum with international lenders following tough negotiations - always keeping in mind the difficult situation which we are facing," Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said in Brussels on the sidelines of an EU summit.

Christofias said that the few remaining differences between the Cypriot government and lenders would be "bridged" very soon. He did not, however, clarify what those differences were.

International lenders had previously concluded a third round of tough negotiations with Cypriot officials.

Proposed austerity measures include wage cuts in the public sector, the cutting of holiday bonuses, pension reforms, the privatization of state-owned companies, and the creation of a "bad bank," where bad assets held by the banking system would be deposited.

Cyprus hopes to receive the bailout by the end of the year.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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