Cyprus outlines a package of reforms to help boost growth

 
City A.M. Reporter
CYPRUS is planning to lift a ban on casinos and offer firms tax exemptions on profits reinvested on the island under a package of reforms to kickstart its ailing economy, its president said yesterday.

The country’s Eurozone partners agreed on a €10bn (£8.4bn) rescue package last Monday after weeks of tense negotiations that showed the debt crisis racking the 17-nation currency union is far from over.

The tough terms of the deal look set to deepen the island’s recession, shrink its banking sector and lead to thousands of job losses, while the capital controls imposed to prevent a run on Cypriot banks may test the ties that bind the single-currency bloc as a whole.

President Nicos Anastasiades, who briefed ministers on the economy at an informal meeting yesterday, said the 12-point growth plan would be put to the cabinet for approval within the next 15 days.

The programme includes measures to attract foreign investment to the island – a hub for offshore finance – as well as tax exemptions on business profits reinvested there, and the easing of payment terms and interest rates on loans.

In a bid to attract more tourists to the south of the island, it also hopes to lift a ban on casinos, which so far only operate legally in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.