Cyprus swears in new finance minister, IMF pledges money | News | DW | 03.04.2013
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Cyprus swears in new finance minister, IMF pledges money

Cyprus's new finance minister has officially been sworn in, a day after his predecessor resigned following the island's multi-billion euro bailout. Meanwhile, the IMF said it will contribute a billion euros to the fund.

Haris Georgiades, a 40-year-old economist and labor minister, was formally sworn in as Cyprus's new finance minister Wednesday.

At the swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, President Nicos Anastasiades said the days ahead would require "firstly, collectivity and, secondly, consistency and fiscal discipline and all those measures that will contribute to kick-starting the economy as soon as possible."

His appointment comes one day after his predecessor, Michalis Sarris, announced he was stepping down to cooperate with judges investigating the failure of Laiki Bank, where he served as chairman for much of last year.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde has announced that the lender has agreed to provide approximately one billion euros ($1.28 billion) to the 10-billion-euro bailout plan for Cyprus.

"This would be through a three-year 891 million Special Drawing Rights (about one billion euro) loan," Lagarde said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Cyprus wrapped up talks with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that opened the way to receive the 10-billion-euro ($12.8 billion) bailout.

"The Cypriot authorities have put forward an ambitious, multi-year reform program to address the economic challenges they face," Lagarde said.

Lagarde said the executive board would likely be asked to approve the deal in May.

Inquiry underway

On Tuesday, President Anastasiades appointed three former supreme court judges to lead an investigation into how the island was pushed to the verge of bankruptcy. Among other things, they are to try to find out whether large sums of money were transferred out of the country in the days before capital controls were introduced.

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday that no-one was immune from the inquiry, not even he or his family. Speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for the three commission members, Anastasiades also said he had encouraged them to investigate him and members of his family as a "matter of priority" and with "extra vigour."

This comes after a newspaper published a story containing unsubstantiated allegations that members of the president's family moved money out of the country based on inside information that the government was set to introduce capital controls.

This is seen as a move to counter so far unsubstantiated allegations that family members used privileged information to get money out of the country before deposits were locked down.

Cyprus in crisis

Under the bailout deal, those with savings larger than 100,000 euros in the Bank of Cyprus face losing up to 60 percent of their deposits.

Laiki account holders with more than 100,000 euros will have to wait years to see any of their money, as the bank has been closed down.

Banks reopened last Thursday under stringent capital controls, after a near two-week lockdown prompted by fears of a run on deposits. The restrictions have since been eased.

hc/jr (AFP, dpa)