20 February 2014 10:21

Bumper revenue from a super casino could allow the government to restrict the scope of the denationalisation process, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said yesterday.<br /> He noted however that the decisions for privatisations can only be tweaked and not abolished altogether, provided that the government secures €1.5 billion to meet the Troika’s requirements.<br /> Speaking at the House Finance Committee Georgiades stressed that “if the income reason (for privatisation) was secured, this would be an extremely crucial development which could potentially change the situation”.<br /> According to the minister, the Troika agreed after intense negotiations not to pre-determine a minimum percentage of privatisations, while he also advocated for employees retirement rights and their right to participate in the share capital of the privatised body.<br /> “We believe that the participation of employees either through their funds or on an individual level is a very positive development, but this is not something that can be imposed; it is up to them to do so if they want,” Georgiades said.<br /> He also expressed readiness to secure that the House has a say in the process and restated his willingness to discuss all adjustments related to workers’ employment rights such as their occupational status with the unions.<br /> Georgiades announced that another draft bill will be submitted to the House next week in relation to all the organisations and businesses of the state, while a unit to monitor the operation of semi-government organisations will be decided during the next Cabinet meeting.<br /> This unit will discuss prospects for 4-5 more organisations which were initially excluded from the denationalisation programme including the Housing Finance Corporation, the Land Development Corporation, the Oil Storage Company, Grain Commission and the premises of the defunct Kofinou abattoir.<br /> The minister clarified however that there are no other state organisations that are ready or suitable for privatisation, adding that the Ports Authority will remain a public organisation even though it is included in the sell-off.<br /> “Even the EAC has been included with the reservation that before any final decisions are made there must be a specialised study to suggest the structure, role and authorities of the authority in relation to Cyprus’ wider energy map.”<br /> Meanwhile, the Electricity Authority issued a statement requesting the exclusion of the organisation from privatisation due to the increasing significance of energy issues.<br /> It said the government has at no point informed or discussed the issue with the EAC and that the privatisation of the organisation will have negative repercussions for the economy and society at large.<br /> The legal services are currently conducting an investigation on issues of constitutionality and the employment status of employees at semi-government organisations.


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