Cyprus may delay vote on bank depositor tax, looking at 'Plan B'

It was unclear on Tuesday morning whether Cyprus would hold a postponed vote on a bank deposit tax demanded by the eurozone and International Monetary Fund as part of a bailout.

Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianidis told Skai TV on Tuesday morning that there was no indication at that point that the vote, initially expected on Sunday, would be held.

Minutes later, Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou told Skai that it was possible the debate would be delayed or that if it started on Tuesday, the vote might happen a day later.

Stylianidis and Fotiou confirmed that as things stand, there is not enough support in Cypriot Parliament to approve the tax.

Stylianidis said the government was examining changing the levy, with the possibility of savers with less than 100,000 euros in their accounts facing smaller charges or no charge at all.

Fotiou, meanwhile, compared the situation in Cyprus to the Turkish invasion of the island.

“Of course it’s similar,” he said, while adding that Nicosia is looking at other options.

“If this does not pass through Parliament then it is part of responsible politics for us to look at Plan B, which we are examining but can’t discuss publicly,” he said.

As of Monday night, it looked extremely doubtful whether President Nicos Anastasiades would get the 29 votes he would need for a majority in the 56-seat Parliament.

His Democratic Rally party (DISY) has 20 seats and will rely on support from its coalition partner, the Democratic Party (DIKO), which has eight MPs and then at least one of the two European Party (EVROKO) deputies or an independent lawmakers to support the tax.

The Communist Party (AKEL), the Socialists (EDEK) and the Greens said they would reject the levy.

However, DIKO indicated on Monday that it would not support the tax, which foresees deposits over 100,000 euros being taxed at 9.9 percent and those under 100,000 facing a one-off levy of 6.75 percent. It referred to the Eurogroup’s decision to approve the measure as “catastrophic.”