By Thalia Neophytou
Presidential hopeful Stavros Malas has warned that a non solution to the Cyprus problem is as dangerous as an agreement that is rejected by the electorate.
He said that if elected, he would seek consensus on national issues.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, the Akel-backed independent said he would respect those who have different views to his own on the Cyprus issue but that UN-led peace talks must resume immediately because the situation is changing rapidly in northern Cyprus and in Turkey and a solution will be difficult to implement.
He said that he would call on the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to reaffirm the framework, the principles and the result of the peace process so far and then move forward, starting first with the internal and then moving on to the external aspects of the Cyprus question.
“A small country like Cyprus needs primarily a powerful weapon and that is its credibility. We have to actually mean what we are saying,” he said, adding that incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades had failed to present Cyprus as a credible country.
Malas also stressed the need to mobilise the European Union with regard to the Cyprus issue.
On the economy, Malas said it was imperative to create a shareholding unit to manage the burden of non-performing Loans (NPLs). He suggested that this unit, which should involve both the state and the banks, would protect mainly borrowers from losing their homes or their small business.
The country’s economic model should change so as not to rely only on tourism, low corporate tax and citizenship through investment. He proposed tax incentives for high tech companies, investment and manufacturing industry, agriculture and animal husbandry and also investment in medical tourism. These sectors, he said, would have multiple benefits for the economy and create quality jobs.
“Cyprus must invest in innovation, research, it must add value to all its products, whether material or intellectual, or services, in order to have an additional advantage beyond the low tax rate,” he said.
Referring to the oil and gas industry, he said that Cyprus should try to exploit its reserves in order to upgrade its position geo-strategically. He suggested the creation of a gas terminal in Cyprus if new discoveries make it feasible and criticised the current government for missing the opportunity to create such infrastructure in cooperation with Israel back in 2013.
Questioned on health matters, he stressed that the National Health Scheme (Gesy) must be implemented and this made it crucial to support state hospitals “which are collapsing”.
Malas appeared concerned that delays in implementing Gesy could lead to the same situation which has happened in the US, where private insurance companies managed to increase their share and influence and eventually circumvent any national planning on the introduction of a health system that covers the entire population.
Nine candidates are contesting the presidential elections on January 28. If no candidate gains 50+1 votes, a second round of voting will take place on February 4 with the participation of the two front runners.