Cyprus bailout cost surges to $35b

Cyprus has confirmed the cost of its EU-IMF bailout has surged to €23 billion ($35 billion) from €17.5 billion, putting the already teetering economy in danger of collapse and further endangering large bank depositors.

"It's a fact the memorandum of November talked about €17.5 billion in financing needs. And it has emerged this figure has become €23 billion," said government spokesman Christos Stylianides.

That means Cyprus will now have to find €6 billion more than the €7 billion mooted in a preliminary agreement reached last month in order to secure an EU-IMF contribution of €10 billion.

Under the preliminary terms of a bailout agreed last month, Cyprus will drastically reduce the size of its bloated banking sector, raise taxes, downsize the public sector workforce and privatise some state-owned firms.

Stylianides was commenting on a new assessment of Cyprus's financing needs that eurozone finance ministers, including that of Cyprus, are to discuss in Dublin from today in a bid to reach a final deal.

A source close to the talks said: "The financing needs of Cyprus have evolved. Notably, while the restructuring of the financial sector will now be very largely financed through private means, the projected fiscal needs of the state have increased as a result of the deeper-than-expected recession."

A copy of the assessment says the European Commission and European Central Bank now estimate that "Cyprus's gross financing needs amount to about (€23 billion) over the three-year programme horizon" through to the first quarter of 2016.

"This includes needs for the recapitalisation of the banking sector, the redemption of maturing medium and long-term debt, including loans and fiscal needs."

To cover part of Cyprus's revenue-raising needs, there was talk that customers with deposits of more than €100,000 at Bank of Cyprus could lose up to 60 per cent of those holdings. That figure could now be even higher.

- AFP

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