Cyprus reported ‘significant progress’ in talks on Saturday with the EU and the IMF aimed at clinching a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout to save the eurozone member from looming bankruptcy.
The Cypriot authorities are scrambling to raise 5.8 billion euros before a Monday deadline set by the European Central Bank or it will cut off emergency financial aid to the Mediterranean island.
“Significant progress has been made towards achieving an agreement with the troika,’’ Finance Minister Michalis Sarris said after initial talks in Nicosia with officials from the EU, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund. But “several issues arose that need further working on’’ in the talks which centred on a proposal to impose a one-time charge on savings held at the Bank of Cyprus, the island’s biggest lender, he added.
Experts were assessing details of the rescue package proposed by the government ahead of more talks at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).
Cyprus is considering imposing a tax of reportedly up to 25 per cent on deposits of more than 100,000 euro held at the Bank of Cyprus, as well as restructuring Laiki Bank (or Popular Bank) into a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bank.
Asked if the levy was that high, Mr. Sarris said: “I was asked to give an indication and I said the figure being weighed up over the past 24 hours was around there.’’
EU sources have said if no deal is reached, the 27-nation bloc is ready to eject Cyprus from the eurozone to prevent contagion of other debt-hit members such as Greece, Spain and Italy.
Mr. Sarris estimated the legislation would be tabled in parliament later on Saturday. — AFP