NICOSIA, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Cypriots reacted in anger on Saturday at a decision by an Eurozone meeting in Brussels to impose a levy on bank deposits, with at least two political parties saying they will not support the measure in the parliament.
The levy of 9.9 percent on deposits higher than 100,000 euros (about 130,000 U.S. dollars) and 6.75 percent for lower deposits was forced on a beleaguered Cyprus government delegation after negotiations through the night as part of a bailout deal for the economically distressed eastern Mediterranean EU country of about one million people.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem who heads the Eurogroup called the tax a "solidarity levy" towards rescuing the Cypriot banking system and dismissed a notion that it is a measure penalizing Cyprus, as it was meant to contribute towards the financial stability of the island.
No deposits haircut was imposed on depositors in other countries which received bailout support before such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece.
The measure is expected to yield about 5.8 billion euros, most of it out of large deposits of Russians.
However, it has angered thousands of small local depositors, many of them relying on income from their deposits for their living.
Main opposition left wing AKEL party, which failed to return to power after a presidential election less than one month ago, accused the center-right government of Nicos Anastasiades of giving in to pressure despite a promise not to accept a haircut on bank deposits.
AKEL's leader Antros Kyprianou lashed out at Cyprus's European partners, accusing them of imposing their policies in a vindictive manner because they have their eyes on Russian money deposited in Cypriot banks.
Socialist EDEK party also said it would not support the measure in the parliament, which will be called in an emergency session to pass urgent legislation.
The Eurogroup meeting decided the measure must be applied on Tuesday, so the parliament must meet either on Sunday or on Monday, which is a public and bank holiday.
Several hundred depositors queued outside co-operative credit societies, being the only banks open on Saturday, to withdraw their deposits, only to be told that they had been temporarily blocked.
Many of them yelled at embassies of European countries, venting anger for forcing them to take a loss and called the measure "a plain theft, a robbery in full daylight."
The president of the parliamentary finance committee, which will examine the legislation before being sent to the full house for approval, said he expects to hear the government's reasoning why the levy should be passed and why the banks should not be left to collapse.
"This is a nightmare scenario which will deal a death blow to the credibility of our country's economy and will scare away investors," said committee chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos, a MP from coalition DIKO party.
President Anastasiades, still haggard after 10 hours of hard bargaining in Brussels, returned at noon Saturday to Nicosia and plunged straight into a series of meetings with his ministers to hammer through urgent bills needed for applying the haircut on deposits.
The levy on deposits will help keep the bailout loan down to below 10 billion euros so as to render the total sovereign debt manageable.
Making the sovereign debt sustainable was a precondition for the International Monetary Fund to contribute about one billion euros to the loan which will be offered mainly by Eurogroup countries.
The IMF' participation was also a precondition some Eurozone countries had set for participating in the Cyprus bailout.