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17 June, 2024
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State budget battles rage on in Cyprus

Numbers don’t add up as ruling party seeks votes left and right, added pressure causing rifts


Ruling party DYSI has been mounting a campaign over the last 24 hours to secure votes to pass the state budget, which is up in the air over golden passport probe wars, with added pressure also causing rifts even within smaller parties.

According to Kathimerini Cyprus, numbers did not add up for the state budget to pass in the House in an up or down vote on Thursday.

Kathimerini’s Marina Economides wrote Wednesday evening that the key to securing the votes appeared to be Citizens Alliance and socialist party EDEK, but consensus within party ranks was far from given. Smaller party sources, according to Kathimerini, said some demands had been met by the finance ministry, so some MPs were ready to vote in favour of the budget.

Dysi chairman Averof Neophytou who addressed parliament on Wednesday, singled out EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos and called on the socialist party to be the decider in the race.

Dysi chairman Averof Neophytou called on socialist party EDEK to be a decider in the race

But Sizopoulos’ speech during the session did not appear encouraging for DYSI, with EDEK MP Kostis Efstathiou making it even clearer that the budget was not acceptable in its current form.

“We asked and keep asking for foreclosures to be suspended at least for main residences and professional establishments, as well as loan borrowers to be afforded the right to dispute in good faith their debt in a court of law,” Efstathiou said.

While the government has not shown signs of backing down on foreclosures, Nationalist party ELAM said it would vote for the budget while the biggest block came from centre party DIKO, which made clear it would be thumbs down if the government did not allow the state’s auditor general to have access to passport files in connection with the disgraced Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, who said he found some evidence of wrongdoing in connection with passport approvals, has been requesting more information but was denied access by Interior Minister Nikos Nouris who sought advice from Attorney General George Savvides.

Savvides, who also served as member of the Cabinet last year as justice minister before becoming the state’s chief law enforcer, had told the administration it was not obligated to hand over files and went on to assign an independent committee to investigate the programme following a request of the Cabinet.

But DIKO head Nicholas Papadopoulos rejected accusations that he was blackmailing the government, saying his party was taking a stance against corruption while adding his readiness to vote yes but only if the administration stopped blocking access to the files.

Media pundits said tallying the votes on Thursday meant the state budget could not pass the House, while Averof was said to have a scheduled meeting Friday morning with Andros Kyprianou, leader of left opposition party AKEL to discuss a way forward.

Voting on Thursday is expected to take place in the afternoon at 2pm.

Cyprus  |  state budget  |  passport probe  |  economy  |  DYSI  |  DIKO  |  EDEK  |  audit office  |  Cabinet  |  government  |  finance  |  parliament  |  House

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