18 April 2014 08:26

Vulnerable groups can look forward to a series of co-op bank initiatives from next month, Co-operative Central Bank board chairman Nicholas Hadjiyiannis said on Wednesday.
Speaking after a meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Hadjiyiannis also confirmed the co-ops' voluntary retirement scheme had met its targets.
Commenting on the Bank of Cyprus' decision to reduce interest rates by 1% for vulnerable groups, Hadjiyiannis said it was a welcome development.
The co-operative banking movement, he said, would be able to announce a number of its own initiatives for vulnerable groups in May, once its organisational restructuring plan is fully implemented.
On the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) the deadline of which expired yesterday, Hadjiyiannis said 300 employees had expressed interest, well within the target figure.
The co-ops were nationalised following a €1.5 billion capital injection by the state and launched the VRS as part of a preconditioned restructuring plan.
The Co-operative Central Bank is aiming to reduce the 3,000 coop employees by 10% and cut the payroll cost by €14 million per year. The employees to retire will receive an emolument of €104,000.
Hadjiyiannis added that following the successful implementation of the VRS in combination with salary cuts and the reduction in other operational expenditure, the co-ops expect to save up to €300m over the 2014-2018 period.
The Coops also hope to become the financing organisation of the Ministry of Agriculture.
"We want to become the co-financing organisation of the Ministry of Agriculture for any European or government projects for the support of the young farmers, the sector in general and innovative projects" Hadjiyiannis  said.
Excluded from the international capital markets since May 2011, Cyprus agreed on a €10 billion bailout from the Troika, of which €2.5m was earmarked for the recapitalisation of the banking sector, excluding the countries two largest banks. The Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank were instead capitalised through an unprecedented haircut on deposits over €100,000.


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