Nicosia, June 14 : A bitter row broke out in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus as opposition parties accused the Government of President Dimitris Christofias of wanting to sell off part of the Central Bank's gold assets to give cash to various groups of the population.
The President's party - left-wing AKEL- sprung to the government's defence, saying the gold belonged to the people and should be used to their benefit.
"Other Eurozone countries had realised profits made from the revaluation of gold, and Cyprus should be no exception," a party spokesman said.
AKEL Deputy Stavros Evagorou pointed out that France and Germany had sold part of their gold when it reached a high price.
He explained that with the sale of gold reserves, the government plans to pay part of the public debt, which would drastically reduce annual interest payments and facilitate the state's economic policy.
Opposition parties insisted that the sale of gold would be misinterpreted as a sign that the Cyprus economy was on the verge of bankruptcy.
The biggest opposition party - the Democratic Rally- accused the government of sinking in the economy within three months and turning to the island's gold reserves as a solution.
Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said it was clear that the government did not intend to give out cash to various groups of the population, but to reduce public debt, which burdened pubic finances with many millions in interest.