News Local Budget debate begins on Tuesday afternoon, outcome still uncertain

Budget debate begins on Tuesday afternoon, outcome still uncertain

Debate before parliament on the Mediterranean island’s 2021 budget is set to begin Tuesday afternoon and the bleak possibility of opposition parties voting against it seems to prevail.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides once again appealed on state radio early on Tuesday for the avoidance of such an outcome. Vote before the House plenum is set to take place on Friday.

The Minister’s message was that such an eventuality would be catastrophic for the already strained economy of the island.

Opposition parties demand that the government hands over to the Auditor General’s Office controversial files concerning the citizenship by investment scheme which was banned in November over exposed scandals involving politicians and developers. The government refuses to hand files citing confidentiality reasons.

“It is still very unclear whether the budget will be approved or not. On the one hand, we have a controversial much-needed majority for the budget to be voted down,” Philenews reported on Tuesday.

“And on the other hand, the coronavirus spread has forced MPs to be quarantined and, thus, absent on Friday,” it added.

In addition, the political bureau of small socialist Edek party which plays a kingmaker’s role in this issue failed to decide on Monday evening whether it will vote in favour of against.

Their MPs will take final decisions at the end of the debate, party leader Marinos Sizopoulos has said.

Edek’s vote affects that of George Lillikas’ Citizens Alliance since they have joined forces in view of May’s parliamentary elections. At the same time, far-right Elam part has not taken a final stand on this.

The total of six MPs of these three parties can make the difference in the vote.

So far, 20 deputies are in favour of the budget, that is the ones from ruling Disy and of the Solidarity Movement.  And another two MPs, from the fledgling Coalition of Democratic Forces are likely to cast a yes vote.

The negate votes, so far, are 25 – those of Opposition Akel, centre Diko, Greens and independent Anna Theologou.

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