Gold sale not a priority: Cyprus finance minister
By Michele Kambas
NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus is not giving priority to a sale of gold reserves under the international bailout agreed this month and is still exploring all options to meet its side of the deal, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said in an interview.
Georgiades also said he anticipated currency controls, imposed after a chaotic bailout last month and which led to a lockdown of the banking system for 15 days would be eased in "days or weeks".
Cyprus' agreement to sell 400 million euros worth of its gold reserves was one of several shockwaves its progress towards a bailout sent through European financial markets earlier this month.
The amount is small but the precedent of a euro zone central bank being pushed to dispose of some of its reserves helped drive the biggest fall in gold prices in 30 years. Investors worry central banks in some of the euro zone's struggling larger economies could eventually be pushed to follow Cyprus' example.
But while Georgiades said the gold sale was one of several commitments to the island's international lenders, he said it was not an issue which took priority.
"We shall do whatever it takes, we shall meet all fiscal targets. I am sure we shall succeed in gathering the amounts which remain our responsibility in order to avoid any need to come back with a new (adjustment) program," Georgiades told Reuters in an interview on Monday night.
Repeatedly declining to speculate on the timing of any disposal, he said the gold sale was "not even the most important, or the issue of the greatest magnitude" in the bailout deal, worth a total 23 billion euros.
"It is something on the agenda, but it is not something we are tackling now," he said. Continued...