Arab Today, arab today eurogroup calls for swift agreement on cyprus
Last Updated : GMT 01:44:06
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Eurogroup calls for swift agreement on Cyprus

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Eurogroup calls for swift agreement on Cyprus

Luxembourg - AFP

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday called for a swift agreement on a bailout of Cyprus as credit rating agency Moody\'s cut the island-nation\'s debt ratings. \"We discussed the situation of the economy on the island and the request for financial assistance\" dating back to June, Juncker said at the close of talks between the finance ministers of the 17 states that share the euro. \"We unanimously felt that there is a need to accelerate work,\" he added at a news conference. The statements came as Moody\'s chopped Cyprus\'s sovereign rating by three notches to B3, deep in junk bond territory, citing the impact of the meltdown in the country\'s banks following Greece\'s financial crisis. In Nicosia earlier, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso issued a similar message. \"I hope we can move rapidly to reach an agreement on the measures to be taken to guarantee a long-term sustainability of the Cypriot economy,\" Barroso told reporters. \"I believe it is critically important now to come to some level of consensus.\" President Demetris Christofias is in negotiation with political party leaders and trade unions to agree a counter package of milder cuts than those demanded by the troika of international lenders -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In a document leaked to the media, the government appears to be proposing to raise revenue through more taxation and less cutbacks over a longer period than proposed by the troika of lenders in EU bailout negotiations. It hopes to cut the debt gap by slightly more than one billion euros ($1.28 billion) by the end of 2016 rather than the 975 million euros in mostly public finance cuts the troika seeks by 2015. Final negotiations with international lenders have stalled while Brussels awaits proposals from Nicosia as Christofias has said he will not sign a bailout deal that includes the scrapping of a 13th month in salaries, index-linked wage adjustments and privatising semi-government utilities. Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said last week that Nicosia\'s target is to have a memorandum signed with the troika before the eurogroup meeting on November 12 in Brussels. But the Russian-educated communist leader Christofias is determined that Cyprus will not suffer the same \"fatal neo-liberalism\" that was imposed on Greece. Troika representatives have visited Cyprus twice since June, when the country called for help after both the Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank said they could not raise funds to meet recapitalisation requirements. The troika reportedly wants to slash the Cypriot state payroll by 15 percent, shave 10 percent off welfare benefits, scrap the inflation-linked, cost-of-living allowance and roll back government-subsidised housing finance.

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