Georgiades submits 2017 budget, dismisses tax amnesty talk

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By Stelios Orphanides

Finance minister Harris Georgiades submitted the government’s €7bn budget to the parliament on Friday which provides for a fiscal gap of 0.6 per of the economy and dismissed rumours that the ministry is considering a tax amnesty, the Cyprus News Agency reported.

“I have submitted the government 2017 budget to the House Speaker and conveyed the executive’s request to be debated the earliest possible so that it can be passed and implemented within schedule,” Georgiades told reporters in Nicosia on Friday, according to the Cyprus News Agency, after a meeting with the body’s chairman Demetris Syllouris. “It’s actually yet another budget which is balanced. We spend the entire revenue but not more than that and I believe that this creates the preconditions for healthy, sustainable, growth-supporting fiscal management”.

Hours before meeting auditors of international lenders who are scheduled to complete their first mission following the completion of the Cypriot programme six months ago, Georgiades said that what differentiates the 2017 budget from previous ones is that the assumptions it is based on are more realistic and are scrutinized by the Fiscal Council, an independent body tasked with safeguarding fiscal responsibility.

“We have had cases of fiscal misfiring and this is what we have left behind us with the new law,” Georgiades who oversaw the implementation of the adjustment programme said.

Asked whether the government was working on a new tax amnesty law, prompted by references made by Akel lawmaker Irini Charalambidou at a meeting with the audit committee on Thursday, the finance minister said that the situation had not changed. “No, the finance ministry is not preparing any form of tax amnesty,” he said, repeating similar assurances he gave in a letter to Syllouris.

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