New Greek Cyprus finance minister sworn in
NICOSIA- Agence France-Presse
Newly-appointed Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades speaks during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus April 3, 2013. REUTERS PhotoGreek Cyprus's new Finance Minister Haris Georgiades was sworn in today following his predecessor's resignation hours after a probe was launched into how the island was pushed to the verge of bankruptcy.
President Nicos Anastasiades cautioned him of the "difficult days ahead." They would require "firstly, collectivity and, secondly, consistency and fiscal discipline and all those measures that will contribute to kick-starting the economy as soon as possible," he said at the swearing in ceremony.
"I have no doubt that you will not only accomplish your task to the full, but in the best way possible that is worthy of your predecessor," Anastasiades said.
Georgiades, a 40-year-old economist who had been labour minister, formally took up his new post a day after Michalis Sarris said he was stepping down to cooperate with judges investigating the failure of Laiki Bank, where he was chairman for much of last year.
The bank's collapse was a major contributor to the island's near financial meltdown and need for a crippling eurozone bailout.
Also sworn in on Wednesday was Zeta Emilianidou, permanent secretary at the commerce ministry, who becomes the first woman in the Anastasiades cabinet, taking over from Georgiades at the labour ministry.
"The ministry you are undertaking certainly requires great sensitivity. It is a ministry that deals with the government's social policy for vulnerable groups" and with industrial relations, the president told her at the ceremony.
Anastasiades said Tuesday he had accepted Sarris's resignation with "sadness" and lauded his "high political ethos" for stepping down.
Sarris said he believed stepping down was "the right thing" to do to facilitate the investigators' work.
His departure came as the government wrapped up talks with international lenders that will open the way for Cyprus to receive a 10-billion-euro ($12.8 billion) bailout, said government spokesman Christos Stylianides.
"We have completed the forming of the memorandum, which is a precondition for the loan agreement," with the period to implement the deal extended by two years to 2018 to "ease pressure on the economy", he said.
Only Cypriot president, parliament speaker can fly business class: MoU
BRUSSELS - Reuters
Only Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and parliamentary speaker Yiannakis Omirou of all government officials will now be entitled to fly business class, as part of the austerity Cyprus agreed to with international lenders in exchange for a bailout.
The ban on business class travel for government employees will not apply to transatlantic flights, said a memorandum of understanding between Cyprus and the euro zone, under which the Mediterranean island is to get 10 billion euros in loans.
Apart from the restrictions on more comfortable travel, senior government officials will also lose the right to buy duty-free cars and all state officials and parliamentarians will have wages frozen until 2016, the document said.