April 5, 2013
For a few days, the rest of the world looked on awaiting the riots and social unrest in Cyprus that we have become accustomed to from their fellow unter-sufferers Greece and Spain; but it never came. However, as Reuters reports, the public shock (and numbness) over the tough terms of the so-called bailout is now turning to anger as million of Euros remain locked inside the country’s banks. The people are “disappointed and angry,” that the politicians are out of touch, and, “the big guys, who had the information, managed to take their money abroad.” No one has answers for them, “I wrote to the central bank and they came back saying that it was not their competence, so whose competence is it?” as frustration boils over, “absolutely nothing adds up.” But perhaps the saddest truth is that the Cypriots are resigned to years of hardship, “I am going to find myself on the street with no future, only debts. But we will fight to the end. We have nothing left to lose.” It seems when a people has nothing to lose that anything is possible…
Public shock in Cyprus about the tough terms of an international bailout is turning into anger as millions of euros remain locked in the country’s banks.
They are now demanding answers after allegations earlier this week that a company connected to the family of President Nicos Anastasiades shifted moneyout of one of the distressed lenders just before the banking system was effectively locked down on March 15.
Anger and impatience is rising as the results of an official inquiry into what caused the crisis, and exactly who knew what and when, is unlikely to be ready for weeks.
Banks reopened last week but Cypriots can withdraw only 300 euros ($390) a day under a range of controls imposed to prevent panicked residents from emptying their accounts or moving all their savings abroad. Anxiety is being deepened by confusion over how the hastily-imposed rules should operate.
Hundreds of bank workers protested outside parliament on Thursday, worried that they could lose much of their pension savings under the terms of the bailout deal. This stipulates that some depositors have to bear part of the rescue’s cost if their accounts hold more than 100,000 euros ($128,500).
“I am disappointed and angry,” said Iacovos Louca, 53, who works at Popular Bank, which is being wound down under the 10 billion deal with the EU and International Monetary Fund. “The politicians are out of touch with our problems and the big guys, who had the information, managed to take their money abroad.”
Lack of clear answers on where their money may end up is fuelling public frustration.
Andrew Georgiou, a 55-year-old British consultant who moved to Cyprus a year ago with the earnings from the sale of his home in London, says all four accounts he holds with Popular – even a sterling account containing just 22 pence – are blocked.
“I wrote to the central bank and they came back saying that it was not their competence, so whose competence is it?,” said Georgiou. “Nobody is explaining where anyone should go with a problem.”
With an extensive remit ranging from the business sense of Cypriot banks hoarding a mass of Greek government bonds while others were selling them and the prudence of government fiscal policies, the judges will need a small army of consultants.
Cypriots are, in the meantime, resigned to years of hardship. Iraklis Paraskeva, 53, has three children to support, now studying in Greece. “I am going to find myself in the street with no future, only debts. But we will fight to the end. We have nothing left to lose.”