By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
President Nicos Anastasiades called for unity on Wednesday, stressing that the challenge of getting the economy back on growth track is not just for the Government, but for the political parties as well. Over the last few weeks the government is under fire conserning a controversial bill on foreclosures. The parliament voted last Saturday the foreclosures bill passing, but at the same time its voted a series of laws that have been deemed as incompatible with the EU requirements. This move has been considered a breach of the conditions agreed with the Troika and as a result the disbursement (€350 million form the ESM and €86 million from the IMF) of the next tranche will not be discussed in Eurogroups’ meeting tomorrow.
Anastasiades said that Cyprus` exit from the bailout programme “can take place earlier than initially expected” if there is political unity.
He reiterated that his administration “has so far demonstrated full commitment and compliance with the terms and provisions of its economic adjustment programme”.
“I once more call on everyone involved to realize the imperative need of maintaining our unity and solidarity in satisfying the requirements of troika’s programme” he noted.
“I do hope that we will be able to overcome the current critical juncture we have reached, not only through the efforts that the Government is undertaking towards this cause, but, and most importantly, through appreciating that the only way for our country’s bailout exit from troika’s programme to take place sooner than predicted is via our compliance and implementation of the relevant provisions of the programme, while at the same time, as we have proven, safeguarding the interests of the vulnerable groups of our society” he said.
He then wished to emphasize “that it is anticipated that our bailout exit can take place earlier than initially expected. This is a path we should not derail from”.
“Economy is steadily recovering”
Anastasiades said that Cyprus’ economy is slowly but steadily recovering, its banking system is already much stronger than it was a year ago and stability is returning.
He noted that emphasis is now shifting to proceeding with “much needed” structural reforms and the that his administration is already in the process of reforming the public sector, the welfare and health care system, tax administration and public finance management systems.
“At the same time, one of the most important priorities of the Government is to promote growth, through, amongst others, offering favourable incentives for existing or new companies doing business in Cyprus, encouraging foreign investments, increasing Cyprus’ competitiveness and creating a more effective and business-friendly environment, particularly through the simplification of administrative procedures” he added.
He expressed the belief that the Government`s “ambitious” privatisation programme “will attract sound and sizeable foreign investment”.
He also said that new sectors of economic activity are emerging. He went on to note that the energy sector is a strategically important multi-billion project, not only through the discovery of offshore natural gas, but also through the renewable energy sector, especially that of solar energy. Promising opportunities for growth also exist across many other sectors, such as shipping, tourism, large-scale development projects, education, health, research and innovation, he said.
He also noted that already investor interest has been registered as regards the licensing and operation of an integrated casino resort.
He also referred to the advantages that Cyprus has to offer to international businesses such a highly qualified and professional workforce, a fully EU harmonised tax and legal system and one of the lowest and most competitive corporate tax rates in Europe at 12.5%, making it an attractive investment destination and a highly competitive centre for international businesses.
“The prospects for Cyprus remain bright. We acknowledge the difficulties. But we have a plan and we are implementing it. We are convinced that with the right measures and the cooperation of a more business-friendly state we will succeed and we will pave the way for greater growth, both for you and for our country and its people. The challenge is for all of us, not just the government but for the political parties as well” he stressed.