Cypriot draft bill drops levy on deposits below 20,000 euros

NICOSIA Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:45am EDT

A woman leaves Cyprus's parliament building in Nicosia March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A woman leaves Cyprus's parliament building in Nicosia March 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's revised draft bill for a levy on bank deposits scraps the measure for savings under 20,000 euros but does not compensate for the resulting lost revenue by raising it for the wealthy.

The draft, seen by Reuters, did not say if the new structure for the levy raises the required 5.8 billion euros ($7.52 billion) European officials have demanded in return for 10 billion euros in aid.

The bill sets a zero percent levy on deposits of up to 20,000 euros, a 6.75 percent rate for amounts between 20,000 and 100,000 euros and maintains a 9.9 percent tax on all deposits above that level.

Under a previous agreement struck by euro group finance ministers on Saturday, all deposits below 100,000 euros would have been taxed at 6.75 percent and everything above at 9.9 percent.

After an outcry in Cyprus and abroad against the move, eurozone finance ministers urged Cyprus on Monday to scrap the levy below 100,000 euros to spare small savers, and raise it instead for richer bank clients, to 15.6 percent.

But Nicosia was reluctant to agree to such a move because it fears it would scare away foreign depositors, mainly from Russia, and undermine the country's banking-based business model.

($1 = 0.7717 euros)

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; writing by Harry Papachristou)