Cyprus says public debt drops swifter than expected

Cyprus' government says public debt is projected to drop to 98.4 percent of gross domestic product by the end of this year after partly paying off a large loan it owed to the island nation's central bank.

The government said that Monday's 621 million euro ($724 million) payment shaves 3.2 percentage points off the public debt, bringing it below 100 percent of GDP noticeably faster than earlier forecasts.

The International Monetary Fund had projected that Cyprus' debt would drop to 98.7 percent of GDP in 2019.

Cypriot government officials have hailed the debt drop as an important sign of the economy's steady return to health. Cyprus had to get a multibillion euro rescue deal with the IMF and other eurozone creditors in 2013 to stave off bankruptcy.