By Angelos Anastasiou
BUREAUCRACY and economic growth are incompatible and radical reform of investment rules is an urgent imperative, head of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) Christodoulos Angastiniotis argued on Friday.
In an open letter, Angastiniotis acknowledged the progress Cyprus has made following its near-fatal economic collapse in 2013, noting that unemployment has stabilised, economic growth has returned, and international investors’ trust in the island’s economy – which suffered a serious blow in recent years – has shown signs of rebounding.
“However, the positive signs and investor confidence in economic progress, as recorded in a recent survey conducted by CIPA, are not enough,” he said.
“This vote of confidence needs to be reinforced by actions that prove our strong desire to render the country truly attractive to foreign investments.”
Angastiniotis was referring to an April 2015 survey among international companies operating in Cyprus, which said that the island’s tax regime, location, good professional services, and personnel know-how were the island’s main advantages.
On the other hand, bureaucracy, a lack of confidence in the banking system, the economic crisis and major delays in the company registrar’s office were cited as the main drawbacks.
Now is the time, Angastiniotis said in his letter, to press ahead with determination in addressing the weaknesses of the current economic model, which hinder economic growth and endanger the economy’s viability.
“The urgent need to adopt strategic reforms aiming at simplifying procedures and eliminating bureaucracy is also revealed by the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report 2015’,” he argued.
“According to its findings, Cyprus ranks 64th among 189 countries in ease of doing business.”
According to Angastiniotis, fierce international competition in attracting investment funds means the regulatory framework needs to be radically overhauled, in order to become modern, flexible, and business-friendly.
“As CIPA, we insist that attracting foreign investment is perhaps the only realistic way to achieve our goal for viable economic growth and prosperity, job-creation, acquiring know-how, and inducing broader growth prospects,” the CIPA boss said.
“We are convinced that Cyprus can become a high-quality competitive investment centre, as long as we employ the required desire and efficiency, and make the required collective effort to change attitudes and mindsets, through actions that will prove our resolve in achieving this common goal to the investing public.”