By Stelios Orphanides
Finance minister Harris Georgiades said that the council of ministers has approved a draft bill for the partial privatisation of state-owned telecoms company Cyta, which will allow the government to remain the majority shareholder.
“It has been approved by the Council of Ministers and must have already been submitted to the Parliament,” Georgiades said in an interview to state radio CyBC on Friday. “Its content is not different from what has been repeatedly discussed. The government is adjusting its position to that of the political parties as stipulated during the initial debate. We are adopting to a large extent their positions”.
The new bill, which succeeds a previous proposal which the government retracted early last year after opposition parties said they would vote down the sale of the company to a private investor, provides in addition that workers will have their rights safeguarded, Georgiades said.
The privatisation of Cyta and other state-owned companies was part of Cyprus’s bailout terms agreed with international creditors in March 2013. The government’s initial privatisation programme provided for the generation of €1.4bn in revenue to reduce public debt.
“Now we are not under such pressure, but we can –and we must– decide dispassionately for the survival of Cyta,” which last year generated a €30.4m profit but is seen to be losing market share to competitors, Georgiades said.
The finance minister said that he did not expect parliament to debate on the bill before next year’s presidential elections.