By Angelos Anastasiou
Despite widespread caution, the economy has recovered, the worst is over, and Cyprus’ youth now have a future here, DISY leader Averof Neophytou said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference on “Cyprus of Creation, a better Cyprus”, Neophytou sang the praises of local businessmen, farmers, and manufacturers, who he said comprise the Cyprus of creation and productivity that must be taken note of.
“I believe in a better Cyprus that can make us proud,” he said at the news conference, during which a documentary with his recent visits at some of the most successful examples of local productivity was shown.
He added that red tape, lending rates, and household and business costs, must be brought down.
According to Neophytou, ongoing efforts focus on correcting mistakes and distortions, most of which were not created by the “bad Europeans”, but were “our own making over the last few decades”.
He added that closing down the Higher Technical Institute was a grave mistake, as “you can’t have scientists and doctors only in an economy, and no technicians”.
Reflecting on his contacts with business people, Neophytou said he wasn’t asked for favours or benefits, but for government to “stop getting in their way”.
The request, he explained, was for the state to become friendlier to businessmen, industrialists, farmers, technicians, and manufacturers.
“Politicians need to stop regarding businessmen as the profit-seeking villains,” he said.
Taking questions from reporters, Neophytou said that after 14 consecutive quarters of recession, 2015 saw growth of almost 1.8 per cent, likely higher than the European average.
“The worst is behind us, though we don’t ignore the problems still faced by small-to-medium businesses and households,” he said.
But in order for the real economy to see results, he added, the private sector must be kick-started, singling out the primary production sector, especially farming, which was ignored during the boom years of “temporary easy profit”.
On unemployment among youth, DISY’s leader said young people are justifiably disappointed, but argued that they can have a future in Cyprus.
This government, he said, was handed an economy with dying businesses and unemployment, as a result of “our failed policies”.
“The Cooperative group went bust because it lost sight of its role, and instead of supporting farmers and those in need, it was turned into yet another commercial bank,” he said.
“These are the things we want to change, but we will certainly not follow the economic policy of the previous administration,” he added.