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On Thursday, President Nicos Anastasiades announced that new Limassol projects budgeted to €70.2 million, during a meeting with local municipalities at the Limassol town hall. Anastasiades said that his presence aimed at reviewing progress on the last group of projects he had announced in 2015, so that progress on any remaining ones can be made, and announcing new projects aiming to improve the quality of life for Limassol residents.

As for the new Limassol football stadium, the president said that, after multiple issues that had come up, the cabinet decided to assign construction to the Cyprus Sports Organisation at a cost of €28.2 million, with invitations of tenders expected by the end of September. Meanwhile the government will also bear the cost of the €4-million expansion of the road network serving the new stadium. The Audit Service and the state-aid commissioner’s office objected that the initial plans to have Apollon, Aris and Ael, the three football clubs of Limassol, pay for the stadium through government-guaranteed loans stumbled would be tantamount to state aid.

Anastasiades also addressed the criticism for the government’s decision to pay off all outstanding government-guaranteed loans taken out by local authorities which amount to €178 million. Most criticism focused on the government’s failure to demand reform from municipalities in return for the bailout, which was seen as a departure from prudent fiscal policy adopted thus far. Anastasiades explained that this decision will allow municipalities and councils to provide funds for projects of common interest. He also clarified that the decision relates only to loans guaranteed by the government, which have been spent on development projects, and for which the state anyway has the ultimate responsibility to repay. He then added that the decision is in no way a departure from the fiscal discipline we have adopted at all times, since it reduces the state’s exposure to fiscal risks, as these loans are guaranteed and counted as part of the national debt. Lastly, the president noted, in order to avoid seeing the same issues of the past come up again, that he would like to appeal to local authorities and parliament to expedite deliberations for the introduction of local government reform.

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