Cypriots to meet troika before any Brussels trip: Spokesman

AFP, Saturday 23 Mar 2013

Cyprus officials will meet with representatives from the ECB and IMF before heading to Brussels for aid talks

Cyprus leaders will discuss a bailout plan with EU-IMF officials in Nicosia Saturday before a possible trip to Brussels by a delegation headed by President Nicos Anastasiades, the government spokesman said.

A decision on whether to travel to Brussels for crunch talks with the EU will come after a 11:30 am (0930 GMT) finance ministry meeting, Christos Stylianides was cited as saying on the website of private television station Sigma.

Stylianides said the meeting would focus on a legislative bill for "haircut" on deposits held at the Bank of Cyprus, the troubled island's largest lender, which is expected to be tabled in parliament later Saturday or on Sunday.

State television reported that the meeting would take place at the same time and location, but added that the president and party leaders wishing to accompany him would fly to Brussels only after its adoption by parliament.

It said the bill was likely to set a levy of 22-25 percent on deposits at the Bank of Cyprus of more than 100,000 euros.

Earlier, the official CNA news agency said Anastasiades and party leaders would travel to Brussels at lunchtime and return late on Saturday or on Sunday.

The Cyprus authorities are scrambling to adopt measures aimed at raising 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) needed to secure a 10-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout ahead of a Monday deadline to stave off bankruptcy for the island.

Parliament finally gave its approval late Friday to the first three of several measures hammered out by the government in a desperate bid to secure the rescue package.

The most contentious of the measures that has yet to be put to parliament is a scheme to impose a levy on bank deposits -- an unpopular move that deputies have already rejected this week in another form.

But with the deadline looming and the option of securing immediate funding from elsewhere including from ally Russia exhausted, they have been forced to look again at a levy as an option to raise the 5.8 billion euros.

The government needs to seal the package by Monday or face being denied European Central Bank emergency funding in a move that would collapse the island's banks and devour its economy.

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