ECONOMY

IMF: Cyprus on track, but with recession concerns

Cyprus’s efforts to extricate itself from its massive debt could weigh on output for the next decade, the IMF warned on Monday, in a review in which it said the island was well on track in its economic adjustment program.

The Mediterranean island nation is following a three-year austerity program after it almost went bankrupt in March.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union have provided it with 10 billion euros in aid.

In its second progress review, the IMF said the program was on track and Cyprus’s recession, although severe, was shallower than expected.

A modest economic recovery in the eurozone was helping through increased trade.

The fund in early December trimmed its forecast for the island’s contraction to 7.7 percent from 8.7 percent.

But it stuck by its initial forecast for a cumulative economic contraction of 13 percent for the 2013-14 period.

The IMF said the fall in Cyprus’s gross domestic product was expected to be steeper, and the subsequent recovery slower, than in most other eurozone program countries.

That reflects the need for both households and corporates to deleverage, it said, as their combined debt stood at 280 percent of GDP at the end of 2012 – among the highest in the euro area.

“Deleveraging is expected to pose a drag on growth over the next five to 10 years,” it said in its report.

Cyprus says it will embark on a privatization plan for its telecoms, ports and electricity assets to raise about 1.4 billion euros by 2018.

Domestic political support for some elements of the program, including sell-offs, was “spluttering,” the IMF said.

[Reuters]