Business

Cyprus crisis: Anxious times for residents

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Media captionMike Avraamides: "No-one will deliver gas or cheese unless you pay for everything in cash upfront"

Andy's pizza parlour has been a landmark on one of the main roads into Nicosia for 43 years.

Its family owners have lived through the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the north of the city — and the rolling power blackouts in 2011 when the world's worst peacetime military accident destroyed the island's main power station.

With all the banks still firmly shut, most people are eking out their euros. A takeaway pizza is about the biggest treat they are willing to splash out on.

But even though they still have customers, these are anxious times for husband and wife team Mike and Faye Avraamides.

Their main concern is continuing to secure all the necessary raw materials to make their pizzas. They say they have been warned that supplies of cheese, meat, vegetables and gas may be disrupted.

If he can't get ingredients or gas the pizzeria could not operate, Mike says - and he would have to send shop and delivery staff home until the situation improved.

Cash panic

Like most catering businesses on this holiday island in the eastern Mediterranean, Mike Avraamides used to order goods in bulk, receiving 90 days' credit, and paying with a cheque once he had made and delivered his pizzas.

"But now no one will deliver gas or cheese unless you pay for everything in cash upfront. All this helps create fear. Everything used to happen through bank transfers. Its making people a little panicky, and its one of the main things our customers talk about".

Getting hold of money is a prime concern for Cypriots. Limits on cash machine withdrawals have been getting smaller.

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Media captionResidents in Cyprus remain anxious over gaining access to their money.

Hastily scrawled Post-it notes on some machines in the centre of Nicosia remind account holders of a 100-euro daily limit.

It is not just that larger deposits in local banks will be taxed at the rates agreed with the European Union.

Beyond that, capital controls will tie down most of people's cash, putting it beyond reach. It is feared that depositors could lose even more when the restructuring begins and the true financial picture at the banks emerges.

Regrets

Others are just as worried about the impact of the imminent restructuring of the country's two most indebted banks. Those who left their money in those banks say they are kicking themselves for not reading the signs of impending financial doom.

Just out of town, a fruit and vegetable market seems to be doing a roaring trade, as locals buy produce at lower prices than in the city supermarkets.

One man says he is worried about the imminent capital controls to stop people emptying their accounts. "If I can, I will take my money out, put it in my pocket and fly abroad with it."

Someone who has followed events more closely than most is the chief reporter of the Cyprus Mail, Stefanos Evripidou.

He says it is ironic that people might have been better off overall if MPs had accepted the original plan A, even though it involved a "haircut" for all savers.

He says the future austerity arising from the wind-down of the banks will be far more costly for all.

"There will be a freeze on assets at the banks that do not reopen. Anyone relying on those accounts to pay staff may have to lay people off. There will be many job losses and the government will have to pay out a great deal more in benefits.

Cypriots remain angry with the eurozone, but also with populist politicians that failed to act on the many warning signs in the good times.

But they are also stoical, remaining quietly at home watching the endless crisis chatshows - with the odd takeaway pizza to cheer them up.