As political parties continue to quarrel over a bill seeking to release government funds as guarantees for loans to businesses hit affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Cyprus Minister of Finance Constantinos Petrides warned that “the crisis is here and should not be underestimated.”
In a written statement, Petrides reprimanded political parties for constantly submitting new demands and creating obstacles for the approval of an important bill, despite the fact that the government has implemented most of their suggestions.
The bill in question, approved by the Cabinet last week, involves the provision of €1.5 billion worth of state guarantees for loans to be given to businesses and self-employed persons, as well as direct grants to very small businesses and the self-employed.
Petrides said that the bill has been subject to lengthy discussions among political parties and the House Finance Committee for the last one and a half months.
“After three meetings by the said Committee, the submission of written suggestions by all parliamentary parties, which have been answered by the Finance Ministry, but also the discussion during a meeting under the President of the Republic and despite the endorsement of the majority of their suggestions, some parties continuously submit new demands and new obstacles to the approval of a very important bill for the economy,” Petrides added.
At the same time, Petrides went on, despite the fact that the government’s fiscal package towards employees and businesses is particularly strong by European standards, “[political parties] submit unrealistic demands for a steep rise in public spending, disregarding the economy’s capabilities”.
“The memory is still fresh from when the state had cash reserves that were enough for just some days and was forced to apply for a bailout by third parties due to wrongful handlings.”
Petrides also recalled that mindful of the risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak, the government sought consensus concerning economic issues and underlined that “the crisis is here and should not be underestimated.”
The Finance Minister stated that while discussions here are ongoing, all other EU Member States are utilizing the European temporary framework for state support, and are rapidly proceeding with the launch of such measures, stressing that “we are obliged to show the necessary responsibility toward our fellow citizens and to the economy.”