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Parliament holds Tuesday crucial vote on privatization’s bill

04 March, 2014

The Cyprus Parliament discusses on Tuesday a new bill on the privatization of semi-governmental organisations (SGO’s), following the rejection by the House of a previous bill last Thursday, with 25 lawmakers in favour, 25 against, and five abstentions.

The privatization of SGO’s is one of the preconditions set in Cyprus’ bailout agreement with international lenders (European Commission, ECB, IMF).

The plenary session has been set for 12.00 local time (10.00 GMT), just hours before the March 5 deadline for meeting commitments set out in Cyprus’ bailout programme.

Following an extraordinary Cabinet meeting last Friday, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides had said that a new draft bill was submitted before the House of Representatives, after incorporating amendments submitted by parliamentary parties.

On the same day, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades had noted that “we must keep up with the difficult, arduous but necessary course to lead the country forward”, while expressing his confidence that the Cyprus House will also work towards this direction.

A European Commission Spokesperson had reminded earlier that the approval of the bill is a prerequisite for the disbursement of the next installment for Cyprus.

Political parties are split over the new vote. Ruling Democratic Rally (DISI) party voted in favor of the bill last Thursday. The Democratic Party has (DIKO) expressed satisfaction that the new bill incorporates the main amendments it has proposed and said it will vote in favor. Co-ruling European Party also said to be in favor of “putting the interests of the country first”.

Left-wing AKEL has stated its opposition to the new draft bill, noting that changes are mainly of a “decorative” nature and called people to attend protests outside the House premises. Other opposition parties - EDEK, the Greens and People’s Alliance - have presented alternative proposals after the bill’s rejection, calling for consultations with the government.

Trade unions have also called for protests, while asking MP’s to reject the draft bill “once more”.

Three DIKO deputies voted in favour of the bill on Thursday while the other five MPs of the party abstained. The bill needed a simply majority to pass. AKEL, EDEK, the Greens and People's Alliance also voted against the bill.

In late March 2013, the Cypriot authorities agreed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, collectively known as the Troika, on a €10 billion bailout. One of the bailout’s preconditions was the implementation of a privatisation plan covering the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta), the Cyprus Ports Authority, and the EAC by 2018, to generate €1.4 billion in order to restore public debt sustainability.