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Cypriots Concerned That Banks May Collapse Queue At ATM Machines

posted 21 Mar 2013, 04:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2013, 04:37 ]

Worried Cypriots queue at ATM machines fearing banks may collapse but say they would contribute if needed to save the country.

NICOSIACYPRUS (MARCH 21 2013) (REUTERS) - Cypriots on Thursday (March 21) expressed fears over bankruptcy and running out of cash as banks remain closed for another day, forming queues at bank machines.

"I don't know what to do now. I only have 20 euros, I have to go to Larnaca, I needed to put gas in my car, I don't know what to do, now I am panicking," said university student Karoula Kaili after failing to withdraw much needed cash.

The country's government has been discussing various scenarios to end its current economic dilemma and ordered banks to stay shut till next week to avert financial chaos after it rejected the terms of a European Union bailout and turned to Russia for aid.

Crisis talks among the political leadership in Nicosia are set to resume on Thursday after late-night meetings to discuss a "Plan B" broke up on Wednesday without result.

President Nicos Anastasiades, is due to meet party leaders to discuss the plan further.

Banks, shut since the weekend, are to stay closed for the rest of the week and expected to reopen next Tuesday after a holiday weekend.

Despite the looming threat of default and a banking collapse, Cypriots have balked at EU demands for a levy on bank deposits to raise 5.8 billion euros, once taboo in Europe's handling of the stubborn debt crisis.

But on the streets of Nicosia on Thursday many Cypriots said they would be willing to accept contributing to a fund to save the country or accept cuts to social insurance funds if it helped to save the country.

"In order to save the country's economy we are willing even to contribute our own money to save our country, because everything is going to collapse, because unfortunately the situation is tragic," said lawyer Aris Louizos.

Officials said a new plan could include: an option to nationalise pension funds of semi-government corporations, which hold between 2 and 3 billion euros; issuing an emergency bond linked to future natural gas revenues; and possibly reviving the levy on bank deposits, though at a lower level than originally planned and maybe excluding savers with less than 100,000 euros.