The Central Bank Governor of Cyprus said on Thursday (March 21st) that a solution to the country's impasse was expected by Monday (March 25th) as the European Central Bank (ECB) gave Cyprus until the same day to raise billions of euros to clinch an international bailout or face losing emergency funds for its crippled banks and inevitable collapse.

"I expect a program of support for Cyprus by Monday," Panicos Dimitriades told journalists outside the Presidential Palace.

The ECB ultimatum came with the island's leaders locked in talks on a "Plan B" to try to raise 5.8 billion euros demanded by the EU under a 10 billion euro (£8.5 billion) rescue, after angry lawmakers threw out a tax on deposits as "bank robbery".

Officials said new options discussed on Thursday could include nationalising pension funds of semi-state companies, issuing an emergency bond linked to future natural gas revenue or a revised bank deposit levy hitting only large investors, many of them Russians.

The European Central Bank, which has kept Cyprus's banks operating with a liquidity lifeline, said the government had until Monday to get a deal in place, or funds would be cut off.

Presented by Adam Justice