March 22 - Cyprus' small businesses say they are feeling the pinch, with customers holding back from spending their money and banks ordered to remain closed for another week, as the country scrambles to avert a financial meltdown. Edward Baran reports.
The usually busy shopping streets of central Nicosia are eerily quiet. Customers simply aren't coming here to spend their money as the country scrambles to avert financial meltdown. Banks, shut since the weekend, will remain closed for the rest of the week. Although Cypriots have access to cash from restocked machines for now, shoppers are preferring to keep their money in their pockets. All this means yet more pain for those running Cyprus's small businesses such as textile and clothes shop owner Andreas Polemidiotis. SOUNDBITE: Andreas Polemidiotis, textile and clothes shop owner (English), saying: "The thing is it is hard to accept cheques or visas (credit cards), ok, preferably cash but everyone is trying to save their cash so they are not buying anything." Another shop owner Nicolas Mitsigiorgius said Cypriots are avoiding any non-essential purchases because of the climate of uncertainty. SOUNDBITE: Nicolas Mitsigiorgius, textile and clothes shop owner (English), saying: "I believe the market is like this it's psychology. It's not the real picture of the market. Every Cypriot who has any reserves (savings) he put it down now because nobody knows about the future, nobody knows about tomorrow." At a local petrol station, the problem of cash was on everyone's mind. The owner, Andreas Yaniss, pays his suppliers in cash and therefore needs to be paid that way by his customers. SOUNDBITE: Andreas Yaniss, petrol station owner (English), saying: "Next week comes problem, also in your country if there is closed banks one week, two weeks, it's bankruptcy." The threat of bankruptcy for a member of the euro zone, however small, raises fears for the confidence in the currency. The wait to see if that is indeed the final outcome for Cyprus will be an exasperating one for many.