President Nicos Anastasiades held a series of meetings with key members of his cabinet on Monday with the aim of seeking consensus among most of the political parties and to get it voted through parliament before the next EU council that will review progress and release the next tranche of bailout money.
News reports suggest that although the government has insisted on a number of countermeasures to alleviate a potential impact on low-income home owners, the Troika of international lenders is reportedly adamant and has not accepted changes, such as a 50% discount on property transfer fees.
On the other hand, one idea is to bring forward the legislation on insolvencies and to pass it through parliament as a package with the foreclosures bill, satisfying a demand of the majority of opposition parties.
Also, the government seems to be ready to proceed with upgrading the role of the Housing Finance Corporation from a financier to a portfolio manager, whereby the state would step in to ensure that foreclosed properties do not fall in the hands of property sharks.
The bill needs to be approved by the Cyprus parliament before the next Eurogroup meeting, in September, for the country to receive the next tranche of international assistance, estimated at 453 mln euros, or the government could run out of money by the end of November.
Although the government reached a deal with the Troika, opposition parties say the bill cannot be approved as it is and ask for changes or additional legislation. International lenders have ruled out all changes proposed by political parties.
In statements on Sunday, President Anastasiades said that the government aims to safeguard vulnerable groups, and that there must be “limits” or “safety valves” in this necessary process.
The meeting took place at the presidential summer residence near Troodos, attended by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades and Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos, as well as ruling DISY party chief Averoff Neophytou and others.
The President is expected to brief other political parties throughout this week, while the cabinet is expected to discuss the matter further on Wednesday.
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