Cyprus to get first bailout funds in May

Cyprus should get the first payment from its 10-billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout next month after the rescue accord is formally ratified, the European Commission said Wednesday.

The agreement negotiated with the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which includes a series of stiff reforms and cost-cutting measures, is now being circulated to eurozone governments for final approval, Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said.

Finance ministers of the 17 eurozone states will vet it at informal talks next week in Dublin and it will then go for parliamentary clearance, where needed, Bailly said.

"We hope to conclude the approval process ... by the end of April (which would allow) a first payment of financial aid during May," he told a press conference.

Bailly declined to give any details of the accord, whether on cuts and reforms such as changes to taxation designed to stabilise public finances, or a complicated overhaul of the island's banking sector.

Nicosia announced Tuesday that the accord had been concluded with the EU/ECB/IMF 'Troika' and that it had won two extra years -- to 2018 -- to meet the targets set down.

Earlier Wednesday, IMF head Christine Lagarde announced that the Fund would provide some one billion euros under the bailout.

"The Cypriot authorities have put forward an ambitious, multi-year reform programme to address the economic challenges they face," Lagarde said.

"The overarching goals are to stabilise the financial system, achieve fiscal sustainability and support the recovery of economic activity to preserve the welfare of the population."

Meanwhile, a German finance ministry spokesman said the final deal was expected to be ready by April 9, with a vote in the lower house of parliament due later in the month.