Cyprus opposes financial transaction tax

By the Associated Press | March 7, 2013 | 10:29 AM EST

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, right, meeting (from right) with European Commission official Maarten Verwey (EC), Delia Velculescu , head of Troika (IMF), and European Central Bank official Isabel von Koppen Mertes (ECB) at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday , March 7, 2013. Senior officials from Cyprus' prospective international lenders are starting a new round of talks with Cypriot authorities with the aim of finalizing a financial rescue package for the country by the end of the month. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' finance minister is ruling out a tax on financial transactions as part of a rescue package for the country, one of the 17 European Union nations that uses the euro.

Michalis Sarris said Thursday that cutting spending and raising revenue through investing in newfound offshore gas deposits would be better than a tax on financial transactions that is expected to be introduced several EU countries.

Sarris also rejected additional cuts to government worker wages and pensions above those included in a preliminary bailout agreement with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund last December.

Cyprus needs around €17 billion ($22.1 billion) — as much as its annual gross domestic product — to stay afloat, raising doubts over whether it can pay off a loan.