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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Budget surplus higher than expected ]

Budget surplus higher than expected

CYPRUS produced a 3.3 per cent budget surplus in 2007, its biggest in years, as the island reaped the benefits of a revenue windfall from a buoyant real estate market.

The euro zone member since January 1 yielded a €505.5 million surplus in its national accounts last year, contrasting with the 2006 deficit of €172.5 million.

Cyprus' gross domestic product was valued at €15.49 billion last year, and is expected to reach €16.38 billion in 2008.

The surplus shown in statistical office data released yesterday is more than double the latest projections of the Finance Ministry, which put the windfall at 1.5 per cent.

"A 3.3 per cent surplus is the result of buoyant economic activity," Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said.

"Our projection for this year, under normal circumstances, is of a surplus of 0.5 per cent, which in itself is also an important achievement," he said.

Total revenue last year increased by 19.8 per cent, while spending grew by 8.4 per cent.

The main sources of income were taxes on production and imports which rose 30.2 per cent, and a 51.9 per cent increase in revenues from taxing income and wealth.

Authorities say taxes from a buoyant real estate market brought the cash to state coffers last year. However, there is industry concern that demand in the sector could taper off because of a looming 15 per cent VAT levy in July.

The Central Bank imposed curbs on mortgages last year amid fears a market flush with new cash was stoking prices and could have reverberating inflationary effects. Stavrakis said the restrictions might have to be reviewed.

"We fully respect the independence of the Central Bank but we feel the right solution must be found so as not to stifle the sector," Stavrakis said.

Property developers want the lending restrictions eased, ahead of the introduction of Value Added Tax on building plot purchases from July 1.

The industry wants an increase in the mortgage levels banks can offer, a reduction in property transfer fees and an easing on the capital gains' tax, said Lakis Tofarides, head of the property developers' association. (R)

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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