Nicosia with Plan B, Cyprus Banks Remain Closed

World | March 21, 2013, Thursday // 08:09|  views

Banks in Cyprus will remain shut until Tuesday to prevent mass withdrawals. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Banks in Cyprus are to stay closed until next Tuesday, not this Thursday as Nicosia reported earlier.

The banks have been shut all week to prevent mass withdrawals. Monday is a day off in Cyprus, thus the Tuesday opening day.

Greek branches of Cypriot banks are also going to remain closed at least until March 25.

The president of Cyprus is going to present later Thursday to political leaders a "Plan B" for funding the controversial bailout, BBC reports, citing State TV.

One official is quoted saying that the new package would include "some form" of Russian help, but did not elaborate.

Politicians in Nicosia have been scrambling to find a way forward after a bank levy of 10% on deposits between EUR 20 000 and EUR 100 000 was rejected by the Parliament Tuesday.

The levy, which had outraged many Cypriots, was a condition of a EUR 10 B bailout for Cyprus.

Cyprus has attracted money through its low tax rates, with Russians holding between a third and a half of all Cypriot deposits. Russian private and corporate assets in Cypriot banks are believed to total about EUR 23 B, including many larger deposits, and Russian officials had expressed anger at the bank levy plans.

The Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris is in Moscow to negotiate assistance from Russia.

Sarris said after talks with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov that there had been "no offers, nothing concrete," but "a good beginning".

Talks are expected to continue in Moscow on Thursday.

In addition to Russian funding, bank mergers, a bond issue, a levy on bank deposits over EUR 100 000 and nationalizing pension funds have all been mentioned as ways to help the country out of the crisis.

One offer of help has come from Cyprus's Orthodox Church, which is a major shareholder in the third-largest domestic lender, the Hellenic Bank with the Church willing to mortgage its assets to invest in government bonds.

Germany says banks in Cyprus may never reopen if a bailout is not agreed.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she regretted but respected the Cypriot vote.

She said the eurozone had a duty to find a solution for Cyprus, but added that the country's current banking system was "not sustainable".

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Tags: loan, Russia, Angela Merkel, finance minister, Germany, euro, European Union, bank, banks, levy, bailout package, Cyprus, cypriot, president, Nicos Anastasiades, Russian, orthodox church


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