The Cabinet approved on Thursday the 2019 state budget as well as the Medium Term Budgetary Framework for the period 2019-2021.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the 2019 budget provides for revenue of €8.5 billion and for expenditure of €7.9 billion, resulting in a surplus of 3% of GDP.
In 2019 growth rate is expected to reach 3.8% of GDP, while public debt is expected to reach 104% of GDP.
The Minister said that the government’s main goal was to consolidate growth and to create conditions of full employment for the benefit of all citizens.
“I think the state budget serves exactly this purpose,” he said.
He added that 2018 would be the fourth consecutive year of growth at a rate close to 4% and that a growth rate of 3.8% was expected in 2019.
He also said that unemployment was also expected to continue its downward trend as it was already at 7.3% , below the eurozone average.
Georgiades pointed out that there was no budgetary loosening.
“We had a surplus of about €60 million in 2016, we had a surplus of approximately €350 million last year, and we expect a surplus of about half a billion this year and in 2019,” he stressed.
He said however that state budget for 2019, was not an austerity budget, as there was an increase in public spending of about 3% in a way that allows the government to promote and implement a range of new projects and new policies. He added that because of the prudent management of public finances there was also room for tax relief for the citizens.
The Government is proposing to reduce the special defence levy imposed on interest from bank deposits, from 30% to 17% as of January 1, 2019.
As regards the banking system concerns, Georgiades said that the recent developments have been evaluated as positive by international rating agencies.
Hellenic Banks recently completed the acquisition of certain assets and liabilities of the Cyprus Co-operative Bank, and took over the former Coops’ branch network.
Bank of Cyprus announced on August 28 it had agreed to sell a portfolio of loans with a gross book value of €2.8 billion to a global alternative investment manager.
(Cyprus News Agency)