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Cyprus President welcomes ERM II inclusion of local currency
2005-05-03 15:05:16

Nicosia, Apr 30 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos welcomed here today the inclusion of the Cyprus pound to the Exchange Rate Mechanism II of the European Union, adding that work to join the eurozone as soon as possible is already underway.

In a written statement announcing the EU decision taken on Friday in Brussels, President Papadopoulos said that joining the ERM II would bring ''specific and tangible benefits to the economy of Cyprus'' and would speed up implementation of the government's social policies.

He noted that the government's ''disciplined and correct economic policy'' had led to the improvement of public finances and he emphasized the need to continue the fiscal policy to ''put our finances in order and achieve the ambitious but feasible objectives'' to reduce fiscal deficit and public debt.

In his statement, Papadopoulos thanked his Cabinet, the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, the House of Representatives and its Finance Committee, the trade unions, the employers' associations and the public at large for contributing and supporting government policies in this respect.

''I am pleased to announce today that the important economic goal we had set to see the Republic of Cyprus join the ERM II has been achieved and that the long-term efforts to achieve this objective as early as possible have been successful,'' the statement said.

Cyprus officially joined the ERM II on Friday night, a move considered a prerequisite for joining the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Papadopoulos noted that in the past two years, since he came into power, ''with great effort and a positive response from the people and organized groups to restrain expenses, as government policy dictated, we have managed to reverse the overall financial situation of public finances and lay down a healthy basis for the economy to the extent that the competent EU committee, after pain-staking examination and monitoring, has decided that Cyprus could join the ERM II.''

''The correct and disciplined economic policy of the government has led to the improvement of public finances, which is necessary and a fundamental prerequisite to join this important economic mechanism within the EU,'' President Papadopoulos said.

He thanked Finance Minister Makis Keravnos, the Governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou, the House of Representatives, the House Finance Committee, the members of his Cabinet, trade unions, employers' federations and the Cypriot people ''who either by being patient or tolerant have contributed and supported the economic policy which the government has set out.''

''Putting our house in order in terms of the economy and strengthening the economy will help us implement at an accelerated rate the social policy announced by the government,'' he added.

Papadopoulos pointed out that joining the ERM II would bring ''specific and tangible benefits to the local economy'', such as further strengthening of the economy through increased safeguard of the stability of the Cyprus pound exchange rate mechanism, while at the same time it would boost the credibility of the pound.

President Papadopoulos said that joining the ERM II and remaining within the Mechanism for a certain period meant that ''it is imperative to continue our financial policy to sort out public finances and achieve the ambitious but feasible objectives we have set out in the Revised Convergence Programme with a view to reducing fiscal deficit and public debt.''

The government, he said, was determined to promote the appropriate structural reforms in line with EU policy in this respect.

''Preparations for the introduction of the euro as soon as possible have already begun with the implementation of the strategic plan by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank. The National Consultative Commission and other bodies are already in place and cooperation with the EU competent authorities and member states has started,'' the statement said.

Concluding, he expressed the conviction that the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank will pull their strength together, assisted by the public and the private sector, to meet the new serious challenges ahead in order to succeed in adopting the euro as our national currency.

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