By Christodoulos Angastiniotis
CORROBORATING Darwin’s statement that it is the most adaptable and not the strongest or the most intelligent species that survive, our country is well into an era of redefining its priorities.
Seeking to survive in an intensely competitive international environment, it is turning the page, setting the basis for an improved and diversified economic model, with more solid foundations and more credibility and flexibility; an economic model that will play a catalytic role in efforts to safeguard sustainable development and prosperity.
As a result of the drastic measures already taken, the unemployment rate has stabilised and Cyprus is once again registering positive rates of growth. This is reflected both in the number and the size of foreign investments it has attracted over the past twelve months, in all sectors of the economy.
The revival of interest from foreign investors is interpreted as a vote of confidence in the prospects of the Cyprus economy. It is also recognition of the continuous and collective efforts made to restore the reputation of Cyprus as an attractive investment destination.
However, the positive indications and investors’ optimism about the course of the economy, as also recorded through a recent survey carried out by CIPA, are not enough. This vote of confidence needs to be sealed with deeds and actions that will demonstrate our strong desire to make our country genuinely hospitable to foreign investment.
Now is the time to press ahead with will and determination to deal with the weaknesses of the current economic system which act as deterrents to investors, create obstacles to growth and as such undermine the viability of the country’s economy.
Commitment to the objective of creating a friendly business environment is therefore essential. An environment that will operate with transparency, free of bureaucratic red tape, time consuming licensing procedures and other anachronistic weaknesses that impede investment procedures.
It is, moreover, evident that the state engine must not only offer incentives and opportunities, but also create the appropriate framework in which companies can grow and maximise their performance.
With a view to attracting investments that will open the road to the much sought growth, the state must be in a position to heed to the needs of investors and adapt to them, immediately and effectively.
The urgent need to adopt reform strategies so as to simplify procedures and combat bureaucracy is also evident from the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report 2015’. According to the report, Cyprus ranked 64th among 189 countries worldwide as regards ease in starting up and operating a company.
Intense international competition in attracting investment funds seeking opportunities internationally means the current regulatory framework must be updated so as to make it modern, flexible and user-friendly for the business community.
A precondition for success in this broader effort of reviving the Cyprus economy is forging and implementing a comprehensive strategy that will guide our collective efforts in those sectors that require reform. With a pragmatic framework as our beacon and with proper planning we can all together join forces to bring about the required adjustments that will definitively change our country’s course, leading it to a brighter future.
As CIPA we are convinced that attracting foreign investments constitutes perhaps the only realistic option to achieve our target of sustainable economic growth and prosperity. So that we can create new jobs, draw expertise and generate wider benefits from growth.
We are convinced that Cyprus can become a high quality competitive investment centre, provided we demonstrate the necessary will and effectiveness and make the collective effort needed to change the mentality and direction through actions that will prove to the investing public our dedication to achieving this shared vision.
Christodoulos Angastiniotis is Chairman of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA)