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Our View: Harassment of foreign investors harms us the most

THE INTIMIDATION and harassment from state authorities and local associations, suffered by an Indian businessman who decided to invest several millions of euro in an alternative tourist resort in Latchi should not have come as a big surprise.

It was not the first time that a foreign national attempting to start a business in the Paphos district has encountered hostile treatment from the authorities who are in cahoots with local interests.

The latest issue of the Sunday Mail recorded the long list of allegations made against businessman Ajay Goyal.

He was accused by a Paphos big-wig of employing over a hundred illegal workers, of doing construction work without building permits, ignoring health and safety rules, while a semi-state organisation initiated proceedings against him for allegedly using an unlicensed contractor to do the renovation work. It also tried to secure an interim order against him to stop the renovation work, but the court threw out the application when it transpired that the contractor was licensed.

Most of the allegations proved unfounded; there were seven workers doing undeclared work but some were employed by the sub-contractor. However, fines were paid. As for the building permit, it was not needed as there was no new construction but only renovation work to an existing building.

How ironic that in the Paphos district, which is renowned for its failure to enforce the law with regard to building licences and cowboy developers who have duped countless home-buyers, there is suddenly great concern for rules and regulations.

The truth is that nobody would have said anything if the project was Cypriot-owned.

But it is not and this is why the Zening Resorts has been targeted. Even the Polis mayor, who recognises the importance of the project that would employ 100 people for the area, has been pressured into sending municipal inspectors. Inspectors from a variety of ministries have also visited the project.

Is this how President Anastasiades plans to attract foreign investment, a government priority that would help the economy’s recovery? Instead of state authorities placing obstacles in the way of foreign businessmen, they should be helping them by offering tax-breaks and other incentives to invest. This is how jobs would be created, especially now that local businesses are unable to raise money for investments.

How will jobs be created when the state allows this despicable treatment of foreigners willing to invest their money in new and innovative businesses?

If the government sincerely wants to attract foreign investors it must re-educate its bureaucrats and officials who think that intimidation and harassment of foreign businessmen are part of their duties. They must be made to understand that foreign investors are doing Cyprus a big favour and not the other way round.

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