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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the first review of Cyprus's performance under an economic program supported by a three-year, SDR 891 million (about E1 billion, or U.S.$1.3 billion) Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. The completion of this review enables the disbursement of SDR 74.2 million (about E84.7 million, or US$113.1 million), which would bring total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 148.5 million (about E169.4 million, or U.S.$226.2 million). The Executive Board also approved the authorities' request for modification of performance criteria on September 2013 fiscal targets.
The EFF arrangement, approved on May 15, 2013 (see Press Release No. 13/175), is part of a combined financing package with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) amounting to E10 billion. It is intended to stabilize the country's financial system, achieve fiscal sustainability, and support the recovery of economic activity to preserve the welfare of the population.
Following the Executive Board discussion, Ms. Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director and Chair, said:
"The Cypriot authorities have made commendable progress in implementing near-term stabilization policies. They remain committed to taking further steps to restore financial stability and the sustainability of public finances to support long-run growth.
"Important policy actions were taken to advance the banking sector strategy, including the recapitalization of the two largest banks without the use of public support, and the exit from resolution of the merged institution. Adequate short-run liquidity support by the Eurosystem remains critical to restoring confidence while a strong business and funding model is being put in place to ensure the bank's long-run viability.
"Steps are being taken to recapitalize and restructure remaining solvent banks and the cooperative credit sector. The authorities will also strengthen the supervision and regulation of these institutions, and ensure the full implementation of the anti-money laundering framework by banks. Improvements to the private debt restructuring framework aim to facilitate corporate and household deleveraging and maximize asset recoveries.
"Payment restrictions that were earlier introduced to safeguard financial stability will be eased gradually to boost confidence and support economic activity. The authorities need to implement carefully the measures included in their recently published roadmap, based on achieving specific milestones in the banking sector strategy, while maintaining sufficient flexibility in the event of unanticipated developments.
"Cyprus is on track to meet its 2013 fiscal targets, thanks to the significant consolidation underway and prudent budget execution. Given still high macroeconomic uncertainty, continued fiscal prudence is called for.
"The authorities are embarking on an ambitious structural reform agenda. Revenue administration reform aims to protect revenues and boost the efficiency of collections, while overhauling the welfare system will help mitigate the impact of the crisis on vulnerable groups.
"Risks to the program remain substantial, leaving no room for implementation slippages. Continued strong ownership, including steadfast policy implementation, is critical for the program's success," Ms. Lagarde said. IMF
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