FINANCE in Cyprus appears to be in tatters with levies threatening to leave people’s savings accounts with more holes in them than a dartboard.
Government of the popular tourist island plans to introduce the bank raid as part of a £9 billion EU bailout which could include some very unpopular measures biting into people savings accounts.
This could see account holders in Cyprus with up to 100,000 euros paying a one-off levy of 6.75 percent with higher deposits suffering a 9.9 percent levy.
The move could affect many of the UK’s 3,000 military personnel in Cyprus, up to 25,000 expatriates and seven members of a House of Commons select committee out there to investigate European sunshine levels.
No wonder then that Chancellor George Osborne, a man not unversed in parting UK residents from their money, was understandably outraged at being upstaged.
He said that people “doing their duty for our country in Cyprus will be protected from this Cypriot bank tax”, perhaps feeling that the tax is amateur hour when compared with his economic measures.
Mr Osborne then widened the scope of his generosity to say that British government workers on Cyprus would also be protected.
This prompted a huge sigh of relief from the Ministers and NATO United Retirement Endowment group (MANURE) which is based at the Hotsy Totsy Golf and Country Club just outside Nicosia.
No wonder the caring chancellor is keen to preserve for his own use figures which show Britons have about £1.7 billion on deposit at Cypriot banks or a sum roughly the equivalent to a busy Saturday night bar bill at the House of Commons.
Churlish residents unwilling to believe this is all being done for their own good have been queuing outside banks to withdraw their savings from cash machines…or they were until it was announced that the crisis will see all Cyprus banks will remain closed until Thursday!
Observers have been treated to the delicious scenario of Russia fighting the little people’s corner with president Vladimir Putin saying the proposed levy is “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous”, noble sentiments unless you happen to know that Russian banks and businesses have large deposits in Cyprus!
Mr Osborne pledged that people out there doing their duty for Queen and country in Cyprus would be protected from the Cypriot bank tax although not, presumably, from him.
The Ministry of Defence welcomed the Chancellor’s promise which will help many British military personnel while similar pleasure was expressed by Algernon Faquhar-Selfserver, Head of Mission for the 17,029 civil service personnel running the British Embassy’s vital paperclip counting department in Larnaca.
The Cypriot government has promised to share the financial levy and President Nicos Anastasiades admitted the deal was “painful” although probably not as painful for him as the levy grab facing ordinary beach umbrella tout Giannis and others like him.
It is therefore hardly surprising that ordinary residents are furious at the drain on their savings which are threatening to disappear faster than a schooner of Cyprus sherry.
Those in the know revealed the truth for the rest of us to shake our heads at by commenting that the money grab was being billed as a tax to try and get round EU deposit guarantee laws.
This reverses the legend of Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood took from the rich to give to the poor. In Cyprus this comes out as robbing many small investors to ultimately benefit the banks with apparently no threshold to protect the poor, some of whom only have five euros in their account.
No wonder some man came close to bulldozing a bank on the island, a relatively constrained action when stacked up against the levy which comes close to financial rape.
With such compassion for the ordinary people, how long before Mr Osborne or a future chancellor is forced to “reluctantly” bring in such enlightened measures for us?