NICOSIA, April 1 Cyprus plans to lift a ban on
casinos and offer firms tax exemptions on profits reinvested on
the island under a package of reforms to kickstart its ailing
economy, its president said on Monday.
Cyprus's euro zone partners agreed on a 10 billion euro
rescue package last Monday following weeks of tense
negotiations, but its tough terms look set to deepen the
island's recession, shrink the banking sector and cost thousands
President Nicos Anastasiades, who briefed ministers on the
economy during an informal meeting, said the 12-point growth
plan would be put to the cabinet for approval within the next 15
The programme includes measures to attract foreign
investment to the island - a hub for offshore finance - as well
as tax exemptions on business profits reinvested there, and the
easing of payment terms and interest rates on loans.
With about 68 billion euros in its banks, Cyprus has a
vastly outsized financial system that attracted deposits from
abroad, especially Russia.
In a bid to attract more tourists to the south of the
island, it also hopes to lift a ban on casinos, which so far
only operate legally on Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.
Speaking to reporters after a memorial service to
commemorate the 1955 armed campaign against British rule,
Anastasiades said the government would focus on "growth and
incentives for growth."
Cyprus's bailout is the first to impose steep losses on
depositors, and is expected to hit business activity especially
Major depositors in Cyprus's biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus,
will lose around 60 percent of savings above 100,000 euros.
Banks reopened on Thursday after a nearly two-week hiatus to
avert a bank run, but the ripple effect of their closure is
likely to strangle business on the island for a long time to
Anastadiades has defended the rescue deal as painful but
essential, saying that without it, Cyprus had faced certain
banking collapse and risked becoming the first country to be
pushed out of the European single currency.