New Finance Minister says privatising Cyta a priority

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Privatising the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) and continuing the government’s fiscal policy are top of the new Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides’ to do list.

He told parliament during his first appearance as Finance Minister that the government is committed to at least the partial privatisation of Cyta by attracting a strategic investor.

Petrides stressed the urgency of the matter saying privatisation of Cyta has to be done “before it is too late”.

He also said that “the same policy framework applies for the Cyprus Stock Exchange and the State Lottery”.

Opposition eyebrows were raised during Petrides’ first budget speech as they argue that Cyta is among the most profitable public organisations and should not be sold off.

Cyta boasted its highest profit rate for the past year, as it generated €60 mln after-tax in 2018.

According to Cyta chair Rena Rouvitha, the organisation is also expected to see an increase in revenue in the coming years.

While Cyta aims to keep costs below 2019 levels, the telecoms authority’s 2020 budget foresees revenue of €349.1 mln compared to revenue of €340.5 mln in 2019.

The increase is attributed to revenues from telecommunications services projected at €343 mln from €331.5 mln this year.

Budget expenditure for 2020 amounts to €306.5 mln, compared to €310.5 mln in 2019.

Cyta has earmarked €500,000 to hire consultants who will advise on its privatisation process and the search for strategic investors.

According to a government decision, Cyta is required to explore all options available for privatising their business, from selling off shares, creating privately owned subsidiaries or partial privatisation of the utility through the recruitment and selection of a Strategic Partner or Investor.