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Cypriots donate food, politicians play blame game

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 - 02:46

Cyprus relaxed some currency controls on Tuesday, as President Nicos Anastasiades swore in three senior retired judges to lead an investigation into the country's finances. The country's finance minister resigned after concluding bailout talks with foreign lenders. As politicians play the blame game, many Cypriots are becoming increasingly dependent on charity. Joanna Partridge reports.

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Singing to show their support. Cypriot and Greek musicians held a concert in Cyprus' capital. Entry was free for those who brought along food and supplies to donate to islanders hit hardest by the financial crisis. SOUNDBITE: CYPRIOT FOOD DONOR, ANNA GEORGIOU, SAYING (Greek): "We're trying to give whatever we can, something for others. It's good to help as things are really difficult." Unemployment on the island has reached 15 percent, and austerity measures including wage and pension cuts have been introduced. The head of Cyprus' civil servants' trade union says workers can't cope. SOUNDBITE: LEADER OF THE PANCYPRIAN CIVIL SERVANTS TRADE UNION, GLAFCOS HADJIPETROU SAYING (Greek): "Up to now there have been sweeping cuts for civil servants, reaching 35% of their wages. If we add the three percent which will apply from the first of the month from next year, it reaches 38 percent. More cuts have been proposed. Civil servants cannot handle all these cuts." For politicans, the blame game is beginning - over who brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy. President Nicos Anastasiades swore in three senior retired judges to lead an investigation into the country's finances, looking at politicians and top bank officials. He expects to be investigated himself, along with his own family. Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigned on Tuesday after concluding bailout talks with foreign lenders and said it was appropriate as he'll be scrutinised by the inquiry. The President says the investigation will leave no stone unturned SOUNDBITE: CYPRIOT PRESIDENT, NICOS ANASTASIADES, SAYING (Greek): "A series of actions or inactions by the people meant to look after the economy, or the banking system, drove us to the verge of bankruptcy. But also to the breaking apart of a large bank and the loss of billions from another." On Tuesday, the government partially relaxed some currency controls, and raised the ceiling for financial transactions that do not require central bank approval from 5,000 to 25,000 euros. Most capital restrictions remain in place and it's not clear when they will be lifted. Frankfurt trader Robert Halver says markets want to hear how the ECB can help Cyprus when it holds its monthly meeting on Thursday. SOUNDBITE: TRADER AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING (German): "It will be the week of the ECB. Everyone is waiting for their comments on Cyprus and especially Italy. I think that Mr.Draghi has to renew his promise to offer unlimited assistance when the crunch comes." Cyprus' cabinet now has to approve a 12-point growth plan, aimed at attracting foreign investment. Measures include lifting a ban on casinos and offering firms tax exemptions on profits which they reinvest on the island. For the Cypriots increasingly reliant on charity, growth can't come soon enough.

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Cypriots donate food, politicians play blame game

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 - 02:46

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