ECONOMY

Troika in Cyprus to study state-run firms

A delegation from the troika of international lenders was in crisis-hit Cyprus on Tuesday to gather data on semi-governmental organizations as part of a deal to finalize a bailout package, officials said.

Technocrats were in Nicosia to check the assets, projects and accounts of state-run enterprises such as the electricity and telecoms authority.

Under a draft memorandum signed between the government and the troika, privatization of such bodies may be necessary to make a loan agreement sustainable.

The anticipated 17-billion-euro rescue package for Cyprus is roughly equivalent to a year’s output of the Cypriot economy.

Meetings of the delegation from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund with officials from state enterprises were being held at the Finance Ministry.

“The meeting was purely about collecting information about the organization’s financial situation, future plans and the way we work,” electricity authority general manager Stelios Stylianou told reporters.

Eurozone finance ministers said on Monday that a long-delayed bailout deal could be struck by the end of March after Nicosia agreed to submit its financial sector to independent scrutiny over concerns of large-scale money laundering.

Long resisted by the previous, communist-led government, the first face-to-face talks between the other 16 ministers from the eurozone and their new Cypriot counterpart, Michael Sarris, resulted in the deal to break a deadlock.

It represented an “important step forward,” European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said, and “the most convincing means of effectively addressing persistent concerns” about the Cypriot finance sector.

[AFP]