NICOSIA, Cyprus – Lawmakers in Cyprus approved three key bills Friday that aim to raise enough money to qualify the country for a broader bailout package and help it avoid financial ruin in mere days.
A total of nine bills were approved, including a key one on restructuring the country’s ailing banks, which lost billions on bad Greek debt; one on restricting financial transactions in times of crisis; and one that sets up a “solidarity fund” into which investments and contributions will flow.
More bills to meet the total target of $7.5 billion Cyprus needs to secure an international bailout will be brought for a vote over the weekend.
They include a crucial one that would impose a tax of less than 1 percent on all bank deposits, said Averof Neophytou, deputy head of the governing DISY party.
“We are voting for the least worst option,” Neophytou said in a speech. “We owe an apology to the Cypriot people because we all share in the responsibility of bringing this place to this state.”
Approval of the tax would come just days after parliament turned down a plan that would have seized up to 10 percent of people’s bank deposits. The plan triggered an outcry from people who condemned it as an unfair grab of their life savings.